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Energy company fined over flammable gas cloud

June 1 2016

A Hampshire-based energy company has been fined £80,000 for releasing natural gas and crude oil.

Winchester Crown Court heard how, on 26 February 2014, an incident occurred during a maintenance operation at Humbly Grove Energy Limited, which led to the release of approximately 145kg of natural gas into the atmosphere. Crude oil was also released onto the concrete-lined kerbed process area.

This resulted in the formation of a flammable gas cloud. The two employees undertaking the work were exposed to a risk of fire and explosion, but fortunately were unharmed in the incident.

Humbly Grove Energy Limited is a top tier COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999) operator, and the company’s main activity is the injection of natural gas into depleted underground oil reservoirs for storage.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the employees were inadequately trained and supervised, and that they did not follow the permit to work and isolation procedures.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,000.