(Adds unions, safety watchdog, background)
By Stine Jacobsen
OSLO Oct 17 Norway's oil workers said on Monday
three unrelated incidents at Statoil-operated oil and
gas fields over the weekend could be a sign that cost cutting in
the industry is compromising safety.
On Saturday, Statoil experienced a problem with well
pressure on a North Sea drilling rig at the Troll gas field. On
Sunday the state-controlled oil major halted output from its
Statfjord A and Gullfaks A platforms due to a fire and a gas
"We are definitely concerned by this weekend's incidents ...
We have long been emphasizing that we are concerned over cost
cuts on maintenance and staff," the leader of the SAFE union,
Hilde-Marit Rysst, told Reuters.
As falling oil prices have forced companies to cut spending,
unions and Norway's safety watchdog have warned cost cutting
could affect safety.
"It is obvious that when something like this happens, you
consider whether you have gone too far in the cost cutting," the
leader of the Industri Energi union, Leif Sande, told Reuters.
Both union leaders said it was too early to say whether the
three incidents were connected to cost cutting and that they
would await investigations into the incidents.
Nobody was injured in the incidents. Production at Gullfaks
A restarted late on Sunday, Statoil said. It was unclear when
production at Statfjord A would resume.
"At a time of change and restructuring, we put great
emphasis on controlling risks," a Statoil spokesman said, adding
the company would investigate the incidents and it was too early
to identify the possible causes.
The Norwegian oil safety watchdog said it had launched an
investigation into the fire on the Statfjord A platform and into
the well control incident on the Songa Endurance rig on the
Troll field. It was unclear whether it would also launch an
investigation into the gas leak at Gullfaks.
"It is very difficult to say at this point in time whether
there is a connection between these serious incidents and the
cost cuts in the industry. We will assess these tree incidents
against this issue," said a spokeswoman for Norway's Petroleum
The risk of accidents in Norway's oil industry rose last
year after reaching record lows in 2014, a survey by the Nordic
country's safety watchdog showed earlier this year.
(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Terje Solsvik and Mark