chapter  5
20 Pages

The Lessons of the Ekofisk Bravo Blow-out

WithCarl A. Fleischer

The Ekofisk petroleum field is situated in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, fairly close to the median line between the Norwegian and the United Kingdom sectors. On Friday 22 April 1977, at about 22.00 hours, an uncontrolled blow-out occurred on the production platform Ekofisk B —the Bravo platform—involving a spill of crude oil which was estimated to be something between 13,000 and 23,000 barrels per day. The Government may lay down regulations and it may inspect installations and procedures from time to time, but it is the operator who must perform the daily tasks of drilling and the building up of installations and equipment. A number of factors served to minimise the damage caused by the Bravo incident. The Ekofisk experience may have served to demonstrate that the existing mechanical equipment for containing the oil slick and for collection of oil was not satisfactorily adapted to the heavier sea conditions which may be expected in the North Sea.