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Issues found with components for North Sea oil and gas field

Norwegian safety regulator sounds early alarm for operations at the Martin Linge field.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Issues found with components for North Sea oil and gas field
Norwegian safety regulator issues preliminary audit results of deficiencies for components slated for the Martin Linge field in the North Sea. Photo courtesy of Statoil.

April 27 (UPI) -- An audit of components being built in South Korea for the Martin Linge oil and gas field in the North Sea found major deficiencies, a Norwegian regulator said.

French energy company Total is the operator for the field in the northern Norwegian waters of the North Sea, alongside Norwegian license partners Statoil and Petoro. The production facility, a fixed platform, is under construction at a shipyard in South Korea.

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The Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway said the results of a late March audit found serious deficiencies that could impede the start of operations next year. The equipment, the PSA said, was left exposed to dust, particles and other impurities.

"The consequences of inadequate preservation during the completion phase will be resource-intensive and time-consuming cleaning and, in the worst case, the need to replace weakened or damaged equipment and components," the regulator said. "Furthermore, it could mean big challenges in planning and implementing commissioning and start-up work offshore."

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The PSA added that there's only a short time available for the license partners to take action before the facility leaves the South Korean shipyard. The notice was issued before the audit was finalized because of the sensitive time frame.

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The Norwegian government approved the development plan for the Martin Linge natural gas field in the northern reaches of the North Sea in 2012. According to Total, the development of the Martin Linge license area represented a $4.2 billion investment at the time.

Natural gas from the entire field, formerly known as Hild, would be shipped by pipeline to the United Kingdom while any oil extracted would be stored offshore.

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Norway is a major supplier of oil and natural gas to the European economy. None of the companies involved had public statements about the non-conformities.

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