Montara FPSO Forced to Shut Down Again After Gas Leak Alarm

Montara Venture
Montara Venture FPSO (file image)

Published Jul 31, 2023 11:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

Singaporean oil firm Jadestone Energy has been forced to suspend production on the Montara Venture FPSO once again, marking the latest in a string of unplanned shutdowns. 

On Saturday, a gas alarm went off in the FPSO's four starboard (4S) ballast tank, indicating that there might be leakage from an adjacent tank in the FPSO. The operator shut in production and notified its regulator, Australia's National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA). 

“While disappointing and frustrating to have to shut in Montara again, we will find and repair any additional defect while continuing with the overall planned program of inspection of the storage tanks on the FPSO. The safety of our personnel, as well as the long-term integrity of the asset, are paramount," said Jadestone President and CEO Paul Blakeley. 

Jadestone's stock shed about 30 percent of its value in trading after the announcement. 

The shutdown is the latest in a yearlong string of setbacks for the field. In June 2022, Jadestone discovered a small leak from one of Montara Venture's tanks. Another "internal defect" was detected in an internal tank during preparations for repair, and NOPSEMA ordered Jadestone to bring in class to inspect the vessel before restarting it. DNV completed a review in January 2023, and the work proceeded towards a restart. However, it was pushed back again in March when Jadestone's staff identified "inconsistencies in standard fittings" that had to be rectified. 

The FPSO resumed production on March 21 and shut down again on July 29.

Like many older FPSOs, Montara Venture began her life as a 1990s-era tanker. She was the 145,000 dwt Freeway until 2009, when she converted into an FPSO at Jurong Shipyard. The conversion was intended to deliver at least 20 years of continuous service on site without drydocking. As designed, Montara Venture can handle 40,000 barrels of production per day and can store up to 900,000 barrels on board. 

The Montara field had an ill-fated start. In 2009, the jackup rig West Atlas suffered a blowout while drilling a well at the field, spilling at least 30,000 barrels over the span of 75 days. Jadestone acquired the field from original operator PTTEP in 2018.