Statoil ASA is a multinational oil and gas energy company with its headquarters in Stavanger, Norway. It operates in more than 30 countries and is ranked as the eleventh largest oil and gas company and 26th largest company of any kind in the world. The Norwegian government has the largest stake in this huge maritime company, which formed in its current state through a 2007 merger of two other companies.
The current company not be very old, but the two that came together have much older roots and Statoil has decades of history working in oil and gas on the continental shelves of the world. With 23,000 employees, this company has seen its fair share of accidents and incidents. Statoil takes safety seriously, as well as sustainability, but still workers in this dangerous kind of maritime work are bound to get hurt or sick on the job.
A History of Statoil ASA
There are actually three companies that make up the history of the modern Statoil ASA. Saga Petroleum and Norsk Hydro merged in 1999 to form a new company called Norsk Hydro, which then merged with Statoil in 2007 to form the current company Statoil ASA. The original Statoil has its origins in 1972 and just two years after, the first oil field discovery was made in the North Sea.
It took until 1979 for that oil field, the Statfjord field, to begin producing. In 1981 Statoil had become the first Norwegian oil and gas company to be responsible for operations at an continental shelf oil field. Norsk Hydro’s history in oil and gas exploration in the North Sea began in 1965 when it began working with French companies. Saga Petroleum was founded in 1972 specifically so that Norway would have three oil companies. The model followed was to have one state company, Statoil, one private company, Saga, and one that was semi-private, Norsk Hydro.
The three-model system didn’t last forever, as Norsk Hydro and Saga came together in 1999 and then merged with Statoil in 2007. The merger made the company one of the biggest in the world and allowed it to engage in a major international expansion of operation. The government is still the major stakeholder in the company.
Statoil is a major oil and gas company operating on continental shelves off the coasts of 36 different countries. Although its origins are in the North Sea and it has been a huge part of making Norway an industry leader in petroleum, Statoil has not been satisfied to stay put. The company operates platforms in several different Norwegian oil fields, but also in fields on the continental shelf regions of Angola, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Nigeria, Russia, Turkey, the U.S., Ireland, and several other countries.
The main types of operation conducted by Statoil are exploration for natural resources and production. The company seeks out and produces both petroleum and natural gas under the sea floor. In fact, it is the sixth largest supplier of natural gas in the world and the second largest in Europe. Statoil also operates in trading of petroleum and energy products and in the development of alternative and renewable energy sources. The company has also recently begun a carbon capture program.
As such a large company, especially in the maritime industry being so fraught with the potential for big disasters, it’s no surprise that Statoil has faced some legal troubles over the years. The worst and most controversial was a 2002 and 2003 corruption scandal. The company paid bribes to officials in Iran in an attempt to secure rights to natural resources.
The company also got in trouble when violating the U.S.’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Statoil was fined $10.5 million in that incident. Again, controversy struck in 2011 when Statoil consultants were brought to trial over receiving cash for contracts worth millions of Norwegian kroner. Accidents have also led to fines and legal problems for Statoil including a 25 million kroner fine in 2009 for a ruptured hose that spilled oil into the sea.
Worker Accidents and Injuries
Work done on oil and natural gas platforms on the continental shelf is inherently risky and dangerous. Even so, workers should expect to be in the safest possible work environment in which the employer has taken all reasonable precautions to prevent accidents and injuries. With its long history and as such a large company, it is not surprising that Statoil has had accidents that led to worker injuries or deaths.
One of these occurred on September 18, 2008 on the Troll A platform in the North Sea. Steel beams being lifted by a crane came loose and one struck and injured a worker. In an incident in September of 2009, a worker dismantling scaffolding fell more than 30 feet onto the cellar deck of a platform. That worker suffered serious injuries, and although airlifted to a hospital, later died.
The company also suffered a large fire in 2014 when the hydraulic tubing from surface equipment caught fire at a fracking site in Ohio. Nearly 20 trucks were lined up where the fire started and it quickly spread to them. Some of the trucks exploded and thick black smoke permeated the air. Residents of nearby towns had to be evacuated because the extent of the smoke was so bad.
One of the most tragic of all Statoil’s incidents occurred in 2016. A helicopter carrying 13 people from a platform in the North Sea back to Norway crashed killing the two pilots and eleven passengers. It was not only Statoil’s worst accident, but the most devastating in the industry for that region. Investigations into what happened are ongoing.
When things go wrong in the oil and gas continental shelf industry, the results are often tragic. From falls to rough weather and water to mishaps with transporting equipment, and even how workers are transported to and from platforms, risks are everywhere and fatalities are not uncommon. Workers injured on the job at Statoil and loved ones of the workers who have died have recourse to seek compensation from the company and its insurance.
If you work in the oil and gas industry, whether on a transportation ship, aircraft or on the platforms, you have a dangerous job. You are at risk every day on the job from being the victim of an accident and even of dying. Regardless of where the blame is placed in an accident, you have rights and those include access to compensation. Be sure your first move after an accident is to talk to a maritime lawyer. This professional can guide your next steps and be sure you make the right moves to get what you are owed.