Health and safety officials have found nearly 26,000 hours of safety-critical maintenance waiting to be done on Apache North Sea assets.
An improvement notice issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said Apache had a backlog of 25,8000 hours of “safety and environmentally critical elements” (SECE) on seven installations.
More than 6,000 hours of this were not properly assessed to determine the risk factor to offshore workers.
‘Alarming’ backlog of maintenance work in UK North Sea
Industry experts have previously highlighted an “alarming” maintenance backlog on UK North Sea assets, an issue which has been ongoing since the Covid pandemic.
An Apache North Sea spokesperson confirmed the US-owned company received the HSE notice on October 11 and was working to tackle outstanding maintenance work.
The spokesperson added: “At the time the notice was received Apache was in the process of planning for deferred maintenance repairs. We take a proactive approach to identify and address needed maintenance. The notice coincided with our planning and execution processes.
Apache ‘committed to safe and responsible operations’
“Our maintenance team has allocated additional resources and successfully reduced the number of non-deferred SECE work orders.
“Apache is committed to safe and responsible operations. We remain focused on all maintenance work and continue to implement appropriate mitigations to maintain safe, ongoing operations.”
The installations covered by the HSE notice have not been named.
Apache was among firms cited in a report in July highlighting major safety failings across more than a dozen North Sea assets and tens of thousands of hours of safety-critical backlog.
At the time, the RMT union said such backlogs were “shocking and far too slow in being addressed”.
Commenting on the Apache notice, Unite the Union said it welcomed HSE taking action “before we have another major incident”.
Trade body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) said industry was active on the issue and waiting to see the impact of the 2023 shutdown season.
But it also highlighted a 4% year-on-year drop in the maintenance backlog.
Two-fifths (40%) of it has moved from “undeferred” to “deferred”, meaning it has been reviewed by technical specialists, OEUK added.