Small Oil Spill Occurs at Maari Field Off Taranaki in New Zealand

OMV New Zealand confirmed Monday a small oil spill occurred during loading operations Friday afternoon at its Maari oilfield, around 43.4 miles (70 kilometers) off the Taranaki coastline in New Zealand.

However, Horizons Regional Council (HRC) -- a local authority monitoring its western coastline following the oil spill -- said in a separate announcement Tuesday that the prospect of oil washing up on the region's beaches was fairly remote.

The incident had occurred during offtake operations as oil from the floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) facility, FPSO Raroa, was being transferred to the tanker "Nectar" when the transfer hose developed a leak close to the connection point on board the Nectar, causing oil to spill onto its deck.

"The majority of the spill was recovered on board the tanker and transferred to its cargo tanks, but a small amount, estimated to be less than 2 barrels (300 liters)," OMV said in a press release.

When asked by Rigzone about the total volume of oil spilled during the incident, the operator said in an email reply that it was "difficult to estimate as cargo operations had been ongoing and product spilt on deck was recovered to cargo."

The operator commenced clean up operations immediately in and around the field after the incident occurred.

Meanwhile, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) noted in a statement Monday that initial clean up actions taken by OMV included putting a tracking buoy in the slick of oil to ensure its progress could be tracked, undertaking several flights over the area to assess the spill and deploying a support vessel with a skimmer for collecting oil to the site Saturday.

The government agency, which is monitoring the situation and model the direction the oil spill is moving, expected the "oil to break up considerably and if it finally hits the coast it will more than likely  present as small tar balls".

“As MNZ spokesperson Sophie Hazelhurst said this morning, conditions are dynamic and the environment is doing a really good job of breaking up any oil ... It is very unlikely any beaches will need to be closed as a result ... If oil does reach our shores it will be in the form of small tar balls rather than as an oil slick," HRC manager for emergency management Ian Lowe said in a media release Tuesday.

The oil slick was approximately 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) from the platform site as of Monday.

MNZ revealed that it was in discussions with OMV to uncover the cause of the spill and to ensure that it has been rectified before the operator recommences operations.

In a related development, the tanker "has been fully cleaned up" and "loading operations are expected to resume within next 48 hours," OMV told Rigzone.


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