South Korea: Victims of 2017 crane accident during construction of oil platform still lacking adequate compensation & support, say NGOs; incl. co. responses

On 1 May 2017, six workers were killed and 25 others injured as a result of a crane collision at a Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in Geoje, South Korea, during the construction of an oil platform for the Martin Linge field off the coast of Norway.

The Martin Linge project had been contracted to Samsung Heavy Industries and Technip FMC, while at that time energy companies Total E&P Norge, Equinor (now Statoil) and Petoro AS owned a stake in the Martin Linge license.

Following the collision, president and CEO of Samsung Heavy Industries apologised and said “I take full responsibility for the incident and we will thoroughly disclose the cause of the accident… I will make every effort to prevent such accidents by eliminating any potential future dangers throughout the shipyard so that the lives lost will not be in vain.” (More in article below).

According to South Korean civil society organisations, compensation has only been received by some of the victims and families of the deceased workers, with other compensation cases still pending in court. Further, they report a significant number of workers who suffered physical and mental impacts as a result of the collision have not been included in the official statistics. Over 300 workers were present at the time of the accident and suffer related trauma, however the majority have yet to receive support or treatment accordingly.

In November 2018, South Korean NGOs – including the Samsung Heavy Industries Martin Linge Project Crane Accident Workers Support team – and the Korean Transnational Corporations Watch – issued a press release and open letters to Samsung Heavy Industries, Total, Equinor, Technip and Petoro, asking them to respond to a number of issues related to workers’ health and safety concerns (press release with links to open letters, below).

In January 2019, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies to respond to the concerns expressed by the South Korean NGOs. Equinor, Petoro, Technip and Total responded, and their responses are included. Samsung Heavy Industries did not respond.

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All components of this story

Company non-response
28 January 2019

Samsung Heavy Industries did not respond

Company response
25 January 2019

Total's response

Author: Total

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to respond...

... Total E&P Norge AS (TEPN) was deeply saddened by the accident, loss of life and injuries sustained.

TEPN has received the open letter referred in the press release published on November 29, 2018 and has addressed a written answer to the Samsung Heavy Industries Martin Linge Project Crane Accident Workers Support team and the Korean Transnational Corporations Watch.

In the contractual relationship which was established between Samsung Heavy Industries Co. Ltd (SHI) and TEPN, acting as operator on behalf of the Martin Linge Unit, SHI is responsible for the activities conducted at its yard, including for ensuring that such activities are performed in a lawful and safe manner.

The legal proceedings following this accident are still ongoing and considering that TEPN is no longer operator nor partner in the Martin Linge Unit, it would not be appropriate for TEPN to comment on circumstances at SHI’s yard, but Total trusts that SHI, subcontractors of SHI and the local authorities are providing local employees with sufficient follow-up in compliance with applicable law...

Download the full document here

Company response
23 January 2019

Technip FMC's response

Author: Technip FMC

Total E&P Norge AS, the operator on the Martin Linge Project, contracted with TechnipFMC and Samsung Heavy Industries to provide engineering, procurement, fabrication, transportation, hook-up and commissioning of the topsides of a fixed production platform. At the time of the accident, in accordance with the parties’ contractual relationship, Samsung was responsible for the activities conducted at its yard, including the responsibility to ensure that activities were performed safely and legally.

 TechnipFMC is deeply saddened by this tragic accident and sympathizes with the families and colleagues of those who lost their lives or sustained any injuries or trauma. TechnipFMC trusts that Samsung and the Korean authorities will provide appropriate care and assistance to those affected.

 TechnipFMC is committed to fostering an incident-free environment worldwide and providing excellent safety performance to our clients, shareholders, suppliers, contractors, partners and employees.           

Company response
18 January 2019

Equinor's response

Author: Equinor

... As stated in the above-mentioned e-mail, Equinor was not leading the construction project at the time of the accident and where thus not permanently present at the Samsung yard. The operator role was managed by Total E&P Norge AS, who had the contractual relationship to Samsung Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. In accordance with this arrangement, Samsung was responsible for the activities conducted at its yard...

Equinor has however reiterated our health and safety requirements to all yards conducting work for the Martin Linge project. To ensure such requirements were being met, we performed inspections of all yards involved in the Martin Linge Project. Our role as non-operating license partner has also been audited by the Norweigan Petroleum Safety Authority without any non-compliance observed...

Equinor has played a vital role in the Korean Shipyard Safety Standardization... a joint industrial initiative between the Korean shipyards and major international clients.

Yours sincerely,

Jan Einar Malmin

Project Director

Equinor ASA

Download the full document here

Company response
18 January 2019

Petoro AS' response

Author: Petoro AS

...Petoro express sincere regrets that workers at the Samsung Heavy Industries yard as referred to in your letter, are still suffering trauma and grief from the tragic accident. For Petoro as a partner in joint venture projects, health and safety for personnel involved are always a priority. 

In a joint venture the follow up of a project is handled by the operator, at the time of the accident, Total E&P Norge AS (Total). In this respect we refer to Total's letter... and the current operator, Equinor Energy AS's letter...

Yours sincerely,

Kjell Morisbak Lund

Vice President Licences

Download the full document here

Item
16 January 2019

Total E&P Norge's response to Korean NGOs' open letter

Author: Total E&P Norge

... As communicated by Total in our press release 6 July 2018, TOTAL E&P NORGE AS (TEPN) was deeply saddened by the accident and its consequences.

In the contractural relationship which was established between Samsung  Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. (SHI) and TEPN acting as operator on behalf of the Martin Linge Unit, SHI is responsible for the activities conducted at its yard, including to ensure that such activities are performed in a lawful and safe manner...

Following a sale and purchase transaction between TEPN and Equinor Energy AS... Equinor has taken over as operator of the Martin Linge Unit.

In light of the above, TEPN does not find it appropriate for it to comment on circumstances on SHI's yard. We are sorry if some of the workers are still suffering trauma from this tragic accident, but trust that SHI, subcontractors of SHI and local authorities provide local employees with sufficient follow-up in compliance with applicable law...

Download the full document here

Item
29 November 2018

South Korean NGOs make inquiries re. crane accident in open letters to companies involved

Author: The Samsung Heavy Industries Martin Linge Project Crane Accident Workers Support Team & The Korean Transnational Corporations Watch

"Open Letters to Buyers and Shipbuilders, Clarifying the Responsibilities at Samsung Heavy Industries Crane Accident", 29 November 2018

NGOs have sent open inquiries to Total E&P Norge, Equinor, Petoro AS, the Technip, as well as to Samsung Heavy Industries to clarify the responsibilities at Samsung Heavy Industries crane accident dated May 1, 2017...

The direct cause of the crane accident was the result of having both the Goliath crane and Jib crane in the confines of one workshop. However, statements by senior officer of Samsung Heavy Industries and other employees of subcontractors given to investigative agencies reflect that this method of working was very unusual and certainly not the prototypical method used in the field...

Additionally, Samsung Heavy Industries did not conduct a preliminary risk assessment despite the fact that the change of the above-mentioned work method was an official emergency procedure. At the time of the accident, buyer Total E&P Norge was required under Norwegian law to have installed a proper set of barriers and conduct barrier management to protect workers during their construction of the Martin Linge platform. To this point, it is still unknown whether or not Total E&P Norge carried out a safety inspection, and, if any, how Total E&P Norge identified the method of working as a risk and carried out the barrier management.

... In sending out these questionnaires, we would like to confirm what kinds of discussions were had as well as what measures were taken in regard to both the installation and operation of the cranes as well as the risk of accident therein. The Worker Support Team will pursue legal and quasi-legal procedures upon receiving and reviewing the questionnaire responses from the previously mentioned companies...

Download the full document here

Article
2 May 2017

South Korea: Samsung Heavy Industries CEO apologises for shipyard fatalities

Author: Julie Jackson, The Korea Herald

"Samsung Heavy CEO apologizes for shipyard fatalities", 2 May 2017

Park Dae-young, president and CEO of Samsung Heavy Industries, apologized Tuesday for a shipyard accident Monday that killed six people and injured 25 others in Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province.

He said there will be a thorough investigation into the exact causes of the incident. 

“I would like to express my sincerest sympathy and apology to the bereaved families and to those who suffered injuries,” said Kim Hyo-seop, vice president at Samsung Heavy Industries, apologizing at a press conference on behalf of Park, who was on a business trip...

“I take full responsibility for the incident and we will thoroughly disclose the cause of the accident,” he said, adding that he planned to visit Geoje on Tuesday evening to investigate the matter himself.

“I will make every effort to prevent such accidents by eliminating any potential future dangers throughout the shipyard so that the lives lost will not be in vain.”...

The accident occurred when two cranes collided at Samsung Heavy’s shipyard... According to the police, the collision caused a piece from one of the crane structures to collapse... The broken-off structure was estimated to weigh roughly 32 metric tons and to be between 50 and 60 meters long...

Read the full post here

Article
1 May 2017

South Korea: Six killed in crane accident during construction of oil platform at shipyard

Author: Heekyong Yang & Nerijus Adomaitis, Reuters

"Six killed in crane collapse at Samsung shipyard in South Korea", 1 May 2017

Six people died and more than 20 were injured when a crane collapsed at a Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea on Monday, Yonhap News Agency said.

The incident took place during the construction of an oil platform for French energy company Total’s Martin Linge field off Norway. The extent of any damage to the platform was not immediately clear, a Total spokesman in Norway said...

“... for the time being all work at the yard has been stopped and the investigation is ongoing,” said Leif Harald Halvorsen, a spokesman for Total’s Norwegian subsidiary.

South Korea’s Yonhap said 22 people were injured, including three severely.

“The crane fell onto the platform’s well bay module, where the people were working,” Halvorsen said...

Total owns a 51 percent stake in the Martin Linge license, while Norwegian state-owned Petoro has 30 percent and Statoil 18 percent.

Read the full post here