Fatigue crack forces OMV to shut in Maari platform

OMV has ceased oil production and is de-manning the Maari wellhead platform (WHP) offshore New Zealand. 

The Maari field is located 80 km off the Taranaki coast in water depths of about 100m. It is operated by OMV New Zealand Ltd (69%) on behalf of the Maari JV which includes Todd Maari Ltd (16%), Horizon Oil International (10%), and Cue Taranaki (5%).

According to a statement on Thursday by Cue Energy, the platform is being shut down as a precautionary measure while it deals with a fatigue crack found in one of the platform’s horizontal struts.

“The crack is about 1.4 meters long, on the third level down, and 4m 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,” says Gabriel Selischi, OMV’s Senior Vice-President for Australasia.

“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 4 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. 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 5 December 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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