New Zealand Platform Evacuated Over Fatigue Crack
The operator of the Maari oil-field, OMV New Zealand, has ceased oil production and is de-manning the Maari wellhead platform as a precautionary measure while it deals with a crack found in one of the platform’s horizontal struts.
The crack is about 1.4 meters long, on the third level down, and four meters 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 November 1.
The Maari field is New Zealand’s largest and is located 80 kilometers off the Taranaki coast in water depths of about 100 meters. It is operated by OMV New Zealand (69 percent) on behalf of the Maari JV which includes Todd Maari (16 percent), Horizon Oil International (10 percent) and Cue Taranaki (five percent). Production began in February 2009.
Gabriel Selischi, OMV’s Senior Vice-President for Australasia, said: “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,” he says.
“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.”
Production ceased on November 23, and the wells were shut-in.
“Work has started on stabilizing the crack and we are actively monitoring it meantime,” said Selischi. “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 December 5 to allow for the completion of a water injection flowline installation, so support vessels and equipment will shortly be on hand to support the required work.