BP has been fined £400,000 for a “major accident” which occurred during maintenance work at the Sullom Voe terminal.
The company estimated more than three tonnes, or 29 barrels of crude oil, was released over about 30 minutes before being discovered during the accident in 2012.
The former Sullom Voe operator failed “to identify and assess the hazards and risks arising in connection with the undertaking of a non-routine job” of draining water from a drain valve, connected to a pipeline system at the terminal, according to charges made against the company.
This led to the incident in the early hours of 13th December 2012, when there was an uncontrolled release of fluids containing extremely flammable unstabilized crude oil from this valve, a risk of exposure to this unstable oil, associated gases and vapours and a risk of fire.
The financial penalty was imposed after the company admitted failing “to take all measures necessary to prevent major accidents and to limit their consequences to persons and the environment” at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.
Greg Haywood, a principal inspector at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) called it a “major accident”.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Haywood said the “important thing to realise” was the scale of the release of unstable gas meant it not only had to be reported to HSE, but also the European Commission.
In a statement, a BP spokesperson said: “BP’s operations are underpinned by a relentless focus on safety and risk management. Regrettably, on this occasion in 2012, we fell short of these high standards.
“While there was no injury to people or impact on the environment, this incident should not have happened. We carried out a thorough investigation and applied lessons learned up until December 2017 when operatorship of Sullom Voe Terminal transferred to EnQuest.
“During that transition, we ensured all safety practices BP had built up at SVT over the years were transferred effectively to EnQuest.
“BP remains ever-committed to safe operations across our operations.”