North Sea Oil, Gas Platforms Weather Storm; Output Being Restored

Nov 9, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

There are no signs yet of damage to oil and gas production facilities in the North Sea following an overnight storm and producers have already begun restarting shut-in output totaling at least 330,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, oil companies operating in the region said Friday.

StatoilHydro ASA (STO) said it restarted production at its Visund oil field early Friday and expects to bring its Oseberg South field back online later in the day.

Both fields account for around 110,000 barrels a day of oil production. Statoil said Thursday that it might have to shut in 320,000 barrels a day of output ahead of the storm.

"Presumably it will start up during today," spokesman Gisle Johanson said.

BP PLC (BP) also expects to restart oil and gas production at its 80,000 barrel-a-day Valhall field later Friday as winds in the region ease.

"The weather projection is quite good now and will improve after midday," BP spokesman Jan Erik Geirmo said. "This means we plan normalization during the afternoon and in the evening which means that production will also recommence."

Production at Valhall was halted Thursday after BP evacuated personnel from the field's platforms due to the approaching severe weather.

ConocoPhillips (COP) said it had received no reports of damage to its oil installations in the Ekofisk region following the storm and it was in the process of returning evacuated crew to the closed platforms.

The company shut seven platforms ahead of the storm but was, as yet, unable to quantify how much output had been impacted or when it would be restarted.

Thursday, ConocoPhillips had expected to shut five platforms with a total output capacity of 140,000 barrels a day.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) said Thursday the company wasn't planning to shut down output.

Meanwhile, one of the key hubs for oil tanker traffic, the Port of Rotterdam, remains closed Friday morning.

Sections of the Port of Rotterdam are expected to remain closed until 2000 GMT after closing at the same time Thursday, a spokesman said.

The port and industrial area at Rotterdam stretches over a length of 40 kilometers. Throughput in 2005 amounted to 370 million metric tons, according to the Port of Rotterdam Web site.

But the Maasvlakte - the port's key industrial zone with links to the North Sea - remains open, he said.

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