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North Sea gas field delayed at least a year

French energy company Total said work on the infrastructure for the Martin Linge field was delayed after a South Korean shipyard accident left six people dead.

By Daniel J. Graeber
North Sea gas field delayed at least a year
French company Total delays development of a North Sea gas field after an accident at a South Korean shipyard left six people dead. Photo courtesy of Statoil.

July 6 (UPI) -- Development of the Martin Linge field in the North Sea is delayed by at least a year because of an accident at a South Korean shipyard, Total said.

A May accident at a South Korean shipyard left six people dead and more than 20 others injured. The collapse of a crane at the Geoje shipyard took place during the construction of the infrastructure for the Martin Linge field in the northern Norwegian waters of the North Sea.

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Arnaud Breuillac, the president of exploration and production for the French supermajor, said all work was suspended for several days in order to accommodate the investigation.

"Total has dispatched its experts to join the ongoing investigation to identify the fundamental causes of the accident and implement the necessary preventive measures to avoid any re-occurrence of such accidents," he said in a statement.

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Less than a week before the accident, the Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway said the results of an audit found serious deficiencies that could impede the start of operations at Martin Linge. 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 at the time.

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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.

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Work related to the field was suspended and, as a result, it will be at least 2019 before production at the field can begin.

"The installation of the modules and lifting operations, which can only be carried out during summertime given weather conditions in the Norwegian North Sea, had initially been planned for summer 2017 but have now been postponed to summer 2018," the French company said.

Total is the operator for the field in the northern Norwegian waters of the North Sea, alongside Norwegian license partners Statoil and Petoro.

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