On 2 February, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) issued Safety Alert No.318 regarding connector and bolt failures in various components used in risers and subsea BOPs. The alert noted BSEE’s concern over “these failures due to their frequency and the potential for a catastrophic event.”
BSEE cited a previous occurrence of bolt failures in December 2012 that prompted a global recall of the bolts associated and a temporary cessation of drilling activities. “The fact that these failures involved equipment from three primary manufacturers suggests that this may be a systemic industry problem that requires immediate attention,” according to the safety alert.
BSEE recommended that operators work with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to:
- Verify there is complete documentation demonstrating that all in-service components satisfy the metallurgical properties specified by the OEM and the latest industry standards;
- Verify that all installation and maintenance procedures, including torque processes and values, satisfy OEM requirements and ensure that these practices are effectively implemented; and
- Report any failures to OEMs and appropriate industry organizations in a timely manner to ensure the prompt transmission of relevant data to the industry.
BSEE continues to evaluate these failures and will determine if further long-term action is needed to prevent additional failures. Additional information will be provided online as it becomes available.
In late January, BSEE Director Brian Salerno had sent a letter to API regarding the connector and bolt failures issue. The letter noted that the problem has been recurring since 2003 and that an occurrence of bolt failures in December 2012 prompted a global recall of the bolts associated with the H4 connector bolts manufactured by GE Oil and Gas.
Although progress is being made in addressing these issues, Director Salerno noted his concern that the industry is not moving quickly enough, “given the potential for a catastrophic failure.”
The letter to API, dated 22 January 2016, continued, “In fact, since the 2012 incident that resulted in the global recall, two additional connector failures have occurred. The latest failure occurred within the last 30 days. The fact that these failures involved equipment from the three primary manufacturers of this equipment suggests that this is a systematic industry problem that requires immediate attention.”
Director Salerno concluded by asking for a concerted effort to create the necessary industry standards that provide consistent manufacturing requirements and procedures.