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Equinor Delays $6B UK Oil Field Start-Up, Again

Norway’s Equinor is pushing back the start-up of a major heavy oil field offshore the UK to the second half of this year in order to check all electrical couplings on the platform, according to the head of major projects at the Norwegian oil and gas giant.  

The start-up of the Mariner oil field—one of the largest developments on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) in recent years which costs US$5.9 billion (4.5 billion British pounds)—has been already delayed several times.  

The development of the Mariner field will contribute more than 300 million barrels of oil with average plateau production of some 55,000 barrels per day, according to the field operator Equinor, which expects Mariner to provide a long-term cash-flow over 30 years. Equinor’s website says that production is expected to start in the first half of 2019.

However, Equinor’s vice president for major projects Morten Ruth told Reuters on Wednesday that the first-half 2019 target would not be met because Equinor had decided to inspect all 40,000 electrical couplings on the platform, after early tests showed a “too high” failure rate at the couplings. Equinor had 56 percent of the work on the Mariner platform completed as of this week.

According to Ruth, the electrical couplings can lead to an explosion if gas gets to the platform.

“We see the startup getting closer. We see that we will be able to complete all preparations before July, but there are uncertainties,” Ruth told Reuters.

The manager expects Mariner’s start-up between July and early September.

This is not the first delay of start-up at Mariner. In October last year, Equinor said that “challenging weather conditions” would prevent it from starting up the field in the fourth quarter of 2018 and pushed the start-up date into 2019.

Equinor is the operator of the Mariner field with a 65.11-percent stake, with co-venturers JX Nippon with 20 percent, Siccar Point with an 8.89-percent interest, and Dyas with a 6-percent stake. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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