Statoil is still working to determine the source of an apparent leak at a subsea template connected to its Snorre B platform off Norway that has shut down the facility.
Sources told Upstream the situation could be “very serious”, although Statoil could not confirm this, and that the state-owned operator company is still pumping mud into the well to stabilise it.
Production at the platform has been shut in since 17 May when an ROV inspection revealed a crater measuring 100 cubic metres at one of four seabed production templates at the field.
A Statoil spokesman said the company experienced an apparent hydrocarbon leak when pressure was increased in the well and immediately mobilised its emergency personnel. The company said it would release a fresh update later on Tuesday.
He confirmed that production will remain shut down until the cause of the leak is found. “We are not completely sure that we have a hydrocarbon leak. We are working still trying to identify it,” he said.
Leader of environmental group Bellona, Frederic Hauge, said the situation reminded him of Statoil’s Gullfaks incident in 2010.
“A hydrocarbon leak outside the casing and a huge ditch under the template has the potential for a major incident. The alarm bells are ringing,” he said.
Hauge warned that Statoil might try to downplay the seriousness of the situation. He also questioned how it could take the operator two days from the time the crater was identified until it discovered the purported leak.
Thirty-three out of 136 workers on the platform were evacuated to a floating accommodation facility near Snorre A at the weekend and have now been taken to shore. The evacuated workers are described as “non-critical personnel” that would not be involved in tackling such an incident.