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Total considers options for Martin Linge project

Talk of revised schedule for development off Norway after criticism from safety watchdog and accident at Samsung yard in South Korea 

FRENCH operator Total is expected to host a key meeting this week with its partners in the Martin Linge development off Norway amid suggestions that it could be considering a revised project schedule.

The company has been reviewing the consequences of a fatal accident early this month at the Samsung Heavy Industries yard at Geoje in South Korea that led to a temporary halt to all work at the facility. Six people were killed and scores were injured when a crane collapsed at the yard.

A Total spokesman said he could not comment on the possibility of a revised development plan for Martin Linge at this time but did confirm that the company is currently assessing the impact of the accident in South Korea. 

He also said that work on parts of the project had restarted after a two-week shut down in the wake of the crane incident, adding that Total had sent a team to South Korea to assist Samsung with identifying the underlying causes of the accident.

Separate to that tragedy, Total has come in for scathing criticism from Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) over the status of work on Martin Linge after an audit uncovered “serious” shortcomings with electrical and other equipment.

The PSA warned of vital equipment having been damaged due to poor preservation and inadequate follow-up of electrical installation work in a newly published audit report.

 The PSA has issued an order to Total demanding the operator rectifies a raft of “serious deficiencies” found by the audit that are in breach of Norway's stringent offshore safety regulations, with a deadline for compliance of 29 May.

Total's spokesman declined to comment on the PSA findings, saying only: “We will respond to PSA within the timeline.”

The PSA audit report highlighted that the state of completion of the platform modules was not as expected given the short timespan until sailaway, with outstanding carry-over work that could result in major commissioning challenges at the field location.

In particular, it stated there was “much outstanding work on completion of the electrical installations onboard and preparation for connection at the field”, with technical, operational and organisational shortcomings identified by the agency.

Earlier this year, Total announced that sailaway of the platform topside modules from Samsung's yard was delayed from May to June this year. 

Lifting of the modules on to the pre-installed jacket was scheduled to be carried out by Hereema’s heavylift vessel Thialf in September. 

This week, Total has been in discussions with its partners Statoil and Petoro, as well as Samsung, about the schedule and there are suggestions that the partnership will decide on a revised schedule at the end of this week.

Upstream understands that one option could be a sail-away this summer with completion and commissioning work carried out either at Rosenberg yard in Stavanger, Norway or offshore at the field.

However, sources said it seems unlikely Total will be able to hook-up the platform before the weather window closes when the autumn storm season starts in the North Sea. 

Another option is to postpone sail-away from South Korea, suggesting that start up by the first quarter of 2018 would be unlikely.

The Martin Linge project is running about 26% over budget at Nkr35.5 billion ($4.15 billion) and start-up of the North Sea field had previously been pushed back to the second or third quarter of 2018 from the original first production date of the end of 2016.