Weather hampers loading

January 7, 2000, 12:30 CET

High winds and waves are causing problems for offshore loading – and thereby for oil production – from fields in both North and Norwegian Seas.

Winds in these waters currently lie close to hurricane strength, with waves almost 13 metres high.

Forecasters are predicting continued storm conditions for Friday and the weekend, with loading unlikely to resume before the evening of Sunday 9 January at the earliest.

Oil output on Statoil's Åsgard field in the Norwegian Sea ceased in the early hours of 6 January because the production ship's storage tanks were full and loading could not continue in the high seas.

And the group's Norne production ship further north has been forced to cut output back to 30 per cent of normal levels because its tanks are also nearly full.

Production from Statoil's Gullfaks field and the surrounding area is down by two-thirds from its usual level of 600,000 barrels per day.

Statfjord, also operated by the group, has continued to produce as normal but a cutback here is likely tomorrow unless the weather improves.

All helicopter flights to and from Bergen have been suspended, but services are being maintained from Stavanger, Kristiansund and Brønnøysund.