OMV shuts in Maari field after crack found in platform strut


WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- OMV New Zealand, the operator of Maari oil field, has ceased oil production and is de-manning the Maari wellhead platform (WHP) as a precautionary measure while it deals with a crack found in one of the platform’s horizontal struts.

Gabriel Selischi, OMV’s senior V.P. for Australasia, said, “The crack is about 1.4 m long, on the third level down, and 4 m below the waterline. It was identified this week, and came to light as a result of scheduled underwater checks of the platform which began on Nov. 1.

“We have taken expert external advice which confirms there is no risk to people or the environment. There are 12 horizontal struts and the six levels of the structure are supported by four structural legs, consolidated by 20 vertical cross-members. So the platform is very flexible, and has a high level of built-in redundancy.

“Level 3 of this platform is the most exposed to the pressures generated by wind and wave action, so that’s why as operator we undertake regular checks. The issue is that we have bad weather approaching this weekend, and New Zealand also has a heightened earthquake risk, so we are taking a precautionary approach. 13 of the 34 staff on the WHP left the WHP yesterday, more will leave today and the remainder tomorrow. Production ceased yesterday and the wells were shut-in.

“Work has started on stabilizing the crack, and we are actively monitoring it meantime. We’ve engaged specialist advisors to assist in this work, and have been keeping both WorkSafe and Maritime New Zealand fully informed. Production was due to be shut in on Dec. 5 in any event to allow for the completion of a water injection flowline installation, so support vessels and equipment will shortly be on hand.”

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