Marathon Oil fined over £1m for Boxing Day blast

Energy & Low Carbon Industry | International | Legal | Scotland
marathon oil pipe
Failed gas pipe in-situ with surrounding structures removed and being prepared for investigation

Marathon Oil UK LLC has been fined £1.16m for its 2015 Boxing Day explosion.

The fine follows an HSE investigation into a high-pressure gas release on Marathon’s Brae Alpha offshore platform.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that a rupture in the platform’s Module 14 pipework caused over two tonnes of high-pressure methane gas to be released almost instantaneously.

The force of the high-pressure blast caused significant and widespread damage to the platform. The incident occurred whilst most of the 100 staff were gathered elsewhere for their Boxing Day meal.

An investigation by HSE found that Marathon Oil had failed to undertake any suitable and sufficient inspection of the pipework that might have prevented the blast. As such, personnel were exposed to unacceptable danger, and HSE served Marathon Oil with an Improvement Notice in January 2016 demanding a better inspection regime.

Marathon pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) of the Offshore Installations (Prevention of Fire and Explosion, and Emergency Response) Regulations 1995 and Section 33(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, at Aberdeen Sheriff Court. The company has been fined £1,160,000.

HSE inspector, Ahmedur Rezwan, said: “This incident is a further reminder of the ever-present hazards in oil and gas production, that if not rigorously managed can easily result in a potentially life-threatening event.

“During any normal period of operations, personnel could easily have been working in, or transiting through Module 14, and they would almost certainly have been killed or suffered serious injury. The timing of the incident and the fact that the gas did not ignite was fortuitous.”

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