Drifting barge forces oil field closures and worker evacuations off the coast of Norway..


A drifting barge has forced BP Plc and ConocoPhillips to shut oil fields in the North Sea and evacuate workers from production platforms.

BP fully shut production and will evacuate all workers from the Valhall field in Norway’s section of the North Sea, spokesman Jan Erik Geirmo said by phone Thursday. Conoco has closed the Eldfisk and Embla fields and moved 145 people from Eldfisk, 95 of them to the shore, spokesman Stig Kvendseth said by e-mail.

The barge is drifting in the southern North Sea and is moving in a northerly direction, according to Conoco’s Kvendseth. The vessel is 110 meters long and 30 meters wide, the BBC reported Thursday.

The closures cap a difficult week for operators in the North Sea amid severe weather. Aker Solutions ASA, a Norwegian oil services company, said Wednesday an employee died when a large wave hit a rig working at Statoil ASA’s Troll field, located to the north of Valhall. Statoil evacuated crew and removed the damaged rig from the well. Marathon Oil Corp. halted oil and natural gas production at the Brae Alpha platform on Dec. 26 following a gas leak.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it hasn’t heard of any of its North Sea fields being affected. BG Group Plc said its three U.K. North Sea fields are operating with additional safety measures to counter weather conditions.

Oil from BP’s Valhall and Conoco’s Eldfisk fields feeds into Ekofisk, which is one of the crudes used to price the Dated Brent global benchmark. Oil and gas from the Embla field is piped to Eldfisk. The Norwegian unit of Hess Corp. has a 64 percent stake in Valhall, according to BP’s website.

31/12/2015 11:52  By: National Post