LONDON - Production at a BP PLC-run oil and gas field in the North Sea has been halted after a hairline crack was discovered in an underwater connecting pipeline, the U.K. energy giant said Monday.
"BP can confirm that a small oil leak--caused by a hairline fracture to a fitting on an infield flowline on the Foinaven Field--was identified at approximately 01:30 Sunday. Production from the field was immediately shut down and the leak was stopped. This was confirmed by a remotely operated vehicle inspection 50 minutes later at 02:20," the company said.
BP said no oil was visible on the sea surface and that there was no evidence of ongoing pollution.
Production at the field, which had averaged around 43,000 barrels of oil a day, remains shut down, BP said. A spokesman said it was too early to determine when production would likely resume--an investigation into the cause of the incident still has to take place -- but that it would be a matter of weeks rather than months.
Foinaven, located 190 kilometers west of the Shetland Islands, was the U.K.'s first deepwater field and was brought on line in mid 2000. BP operates the field with a 70% interest, while U.S. firm Marathon Oil Corp. holds a minority stake.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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