Two Norwegian Offshore Platforms Ordered Shut

OSLO Oct 12, 2006 (AP)

Safety authorities ordered a production shutdown at two Norwegian offshore platforms Thursday, sharply reducing flows from the world's third largest oil exporter.

Inger Anda, of the state Petroleum Safety Authority, said lifeboat defects forced them to order Statoil ASA (STO) to shut down its roughly 160,000 b/d capacity Snorre A platform and Norske Shell ASA its approximately 140,000 b/d capacity Draugen field.

That would be an 11% cut in Norway's average daily production rate for August of about 2.7 million barrels of crude oil, light oil and natural gas liquids.

The order came a day after the Norwegian petroleum industry group presented a report saying 39 "free-fall" lifeboats on eight offshore platforms had defects, including on Snorre A and Draugen. Lifeboats are essential to evacuating offshore oil rig crews in an emergency.

Anda, of the safety authority, told the Associated Press that the other six platforms had alternate evacuation systems that met regulars, while Snorre A and Draugen didn't.

"They applied for an exception to continue operations, but it was not granted," she said by telephone.

Anda said repairs and modifications to the free-fall lifeboats were a relatively simple matter, but that it wasn't clear how long it would take.

"It depends what priorities the companies set," she said.

The oil industry association on Wednesday said all the lifeboats could be brought up to standard by late November.

Statoil and Shell officials couldn't immediately be reached by comment.

Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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