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Shutdown on Snorre A

October 13, 2006, 14:30 CEST

All production from the Statoil-operated Snorre A platform and Vigdis field in the North Sea ceased today, 13 October, because of a lack of lifeboat capacity on the A installation.

“We’ve been in a dialogue with the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA), and have noted its rejection of our request for an exemption from the lifeboat rules,” says Øystein Arvid Håland, operations vice president for Snorre.

“We are thereby shutting down the A platform. Production has been maintained until today in understanding with the PSA.”

Snorre A and Vigdis currently produce 115,000 and 85,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day respectively. Since Vigdis crude is processed on the A platform, its output is directly hit by the shutdown.

A large proportion of the personnel on the A platform are now being sent ashore.

Work to repair the six lifeboats involved will start as soon as possible. It is likely to take about a week to complete two of them, and staffing will rise as more boats are readied.

A lifeboat project pursued by the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) has identified weaknesses in the certified Umoe Schat-Harding FF48II lifeboat type.

Thirty-nine craft of this type are installed on eight platforms on the Norwegian continental shelf, including 20 on Statoil-operated installations.

In addition to the six on Snorre A, 10 of these are on the Heidrun platform in the Norwegian Sea and four on Troll A in the North Sea.

The PSA granted exemptions on 12 October for continued production on six of the eight platforms affected, including Heidrun and Troll A, but refused the application for Snorre A.

Statoil took extensive compensatory action on Heidrun and Troll A as soon as it was learnt that structural problems mean the lifeboats cannot be launched from the installations by free fall.

Measure to ensure safety include an increase in emergency helicopter cover, while personnel on board have been reduced to a minimum and the level of activity cut back substantially.

In addition to Statoil, with 15.5497%, partners on Snorre are Hydro with 17.7672%, ExxonMobil with 11.5849%, Idemitsu with 9.6%, RWE Dea with 8.2812%, Total with 6.1786% and Amerada Hess with 1.0384%.

Licensees on Vigdis are Statoil with 28.22%, Petoro with 30%, Hydro with 13.28%, ExxonMobil with 10.5%, Idemitsu with 9.6%, Total with 5.6% and RWE Dea with 2.8%.