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Petroleum & Gas Inspectorate | Alert | No.99 V 2 | 22 April 2022

Unplanned release of joint from elevators during CSG drilling operations

What happened?

An uncontrolled opening of the elevators occurred during drilling operations, resulting in a joint being released. The joint fell back, resting on the pipe arm. No persons were injured and there was no equipment damage.

How did it happen?

The incident was caused by a suspected electrical issue (still under investigation).

Key issues

  • The elevators opened without the driller functioning the controls.
  • The elevators failed in an unsafe 'open position' releasing the joint.
  • The approximate 1000 kg joint fell back resting on the pipe arm.
  • Reasonable attempts were made by the rig crew to investigate the issues when the incident first occurred (elevators were not latching/unlatching as expected).
  • Workers were not in the vicinity of the rig floor at the time of the incident.

Critical controls

  • A critical control with this incident involved the rig design. Being an automated drilling rig, the design does not require the presence of persons to be on the rig floor during drilling activities.
  • The operational processes in place at the time of the incident required no persons to be present on the rig floor during drilling operations. This requirement was in place when the incident occurred.


  • If operators become aware of equipment not functioning as intended with a HSE risk, a documented risk assessment must be carried out to ensure any continued operations are at an acceptable risk level.
  • Where additional risks are identified, consideration should be given to cease operations until a further investigation can be carried out, or additional risk controls incorporated to maintain risks to ALARP.

General advise to industry

  • Operators should review and assess exclusion zones in place for their high-risk activities and ensure that they manage such zones with adequate controls in place.

Investigations are ongoing and further information may be published as it becomes available. The information in this publication is what is known at the time of writing.

We issue Safety Notices to draw attention to the occurrence of a serious incident, raise awareness of risks, and prompt assessment of your existing controls.

Authorised by Bill Date - Chief Inspector – Petroleum & Gas

Contact: Tony Willis, Manager, Investigations , 07 5459 6191

Issued by Resources Safety & Health Queensland

Safety: This information is issued to promote safety through experience. It is not to be taken as a statement of law and must not be construed to waive or modify any legal obligation.