THE LONDON TIMES: Shell fined £900,000 over deaths of North Sea workers: “THE oil company Shell was fined £900,000 yesterday following a “catalogue of failures” that led to the death of two offshore workers.”: “Jake Molloy of the offshore union OILC said of yesterday’s ruling: “It is a record for fines relating to offshore incidents in the UK, but you have to ask what level of fine delivers justice when a company is earning in excess of a million pounds an hour?” (ShellNews.net) 28 April 05
By A Scotland Correspondent
April 28, 2005
THE oil company Shell was fined £900,000 yesterday following a “catalogue of failures” that led to the death of two offshore workers.
Keith Moncrieff from Invergowrie, near Dundee, and Sean McCue from Fife died in September 2003 after being exposed to up to 2.5 tonnes of hydrocarbon vapour which turned into gas on the Shell Brent Bravo installation in the North Sea.
Sheriff Patrick Davies, fining Shell at Stonehaven Sheriff Court, said he hoped it would act as a warning to other big companies when considering health and safety regulations.
Mr Moncrieff, 45, and Mr McCue, 22, were on a utility leg on the platform, 116 miles north-east of Lerwick, when the gas escaped. They had gone to inspect a patch which had been placed on a pipe to prevent leaks. A broken valve led to an escape of hydrocarbon gases through the leak, which suffocated the men.
Shell had earlier admitted three health and safety breaches including failing to carry out a risk assessment on the platform and failing to ensure the safety of the two men by not maintaining three valves within the pipe and fitting the pipe with an unsuitable patch.
Speaking outside court, Greg Hill, production director for Shell in Europe, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of Keith and Sean. It is clear that a complex series of factors led to this incident. It is also clear that we had failures in our systems and we feel 100 per cent responsible for the deaths of these men.”
Mr Hill said the company had now carried out a number of checks on their Europe-wide installations.
Mr Moncrieff’s wife, Helen, 48, who was in court with his daughter, Jenna, 24, said: “Shell have said they are going to make improvements and hopefully that will mean better conditions for the lads out there on the platform.” Jenna added: “The fine is not going to bring Keith or Sean back, nothing is going to change. I just hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else’s daughter.”
Jake Molloy of the offshore union OILC said of yesterday’s ruling: “It is a record for fines relating to offshore incidents in the UK, but you have to ask what level of fine delivers justice when a company is earning in excess of a million pounds an hour? We are also keen that the Lord Advocate should stage a fatal accident inquiry because there are so many unanswered questions.”
The fine was attacked by the union Amicus, which raised issues with the Health and Safety Executive in 2003 regarding safety on oil platforms. Graeme Tran, regional officer, said: “In just an hour Shell will have already made more than what they were fined. £900,000 will never deter a company from going about their business.
“In March 2003 myself and another official put a complaint in about the lack of maintenance on Shell’s Brent Charlie and Delta platforms. The Health and Safety Executive then stated in August 2003 that there was no immediate risk. Three weeks later, two guys were killed.”
Richard Keen QC, for Shell, told the court that since the incident figures had shown improvements in the company’s safety record, and that Shell was embarking on a programme of upgrading its piping system on the platform.
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