OMV New Zealand reported that a small oil spill had occurred on Saturday at the FPSO (floating production, storage and offloading vessel) Raroa permanently moored at the Maari oil field some 80km out to sea off the Taranaki coast.
The Raroa is owned and operated by Tanker Pacific which is under contract to the Maari joint venture partners. OMV New Zealand operates the Maari field on behalf of the JV.
Regulator Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) was notified immediately. From the Raroa, a thin sheen had been seen that disappeared several tens of meters from the boat. OMV mobilized a helicopter to fly over the area with a trained observer. No oil was visible on the water. It is believed that the amount of oil leaked was very small, but work is still being done to confirm the actual volume.
Production has been shut-in at the facility as a precaution and will remain shut-in until the leak has been isolated. A routine cargo offload has also been undertaken.
"The team worked quickly to stop the leak, thereby minimizing the environmental impact. While this is a relatively small discharge, it is concerning as it is the second one we've had onboard the Raroa in recent weeks," said Dr Wayne Kirk, Managing Director, OMV New Zealand. The two spills are not believed to be linked.
Last month on October 18, during de-ballasting operations, oil was noticed on the water near the Raroa. The operation was quickly stopped and MNZ was notified. A flight over the area indicated there was no sign of the oil within two hours of the discharge so no further action could be taken. Measures have been implemented to ensure this type of accidental discharge will not happen again.
"While the source of that oil is still unknown, we've taken a prudent approach. Even though independent experts have indicated the environmental impact of the small oil globules is low, we organized a clean up of the area with OMV and Tanker Pacific staff volunteers. This was started on Friday and completed Saturday," he explained.
He said staff will also monitor the Kapiti Coast beaches over the next week to observe and respond if the situation changes. OMV has also sent samples to be analyzed to determine if the oil found is Maari oil.
"OMV – both worldwide and here in New Zealand – has a very good environmental track record and we take any release of oil into the environment very seriously," Dr Kirk said.
"OMV sincerely regrets the recent incidents on the Raroa. We're committed to working closely with Tanker Pacific to ensure best practices are followed to minimize any environmental risks."
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