ConocoPhilips halts oil flow from two Bohai Bay platforms

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, July 13 -- China’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA) requested ConocoPhillips China Inc., operator of Penglai 19-3 oil field in Bohai Bay, to suspend production from Penglai Platforms B and C until the risk of another oil spill is eliminated, CNOOC Ltd. reported.

“Operations aren’t permitted to resume until oil spill risks are fully eliminated,” SOA said in a statement following two incidents from the field last month. Under a production-sharing contract with ConocoPhillips, CNOOC holds 51% interest.

The shutin is expected to result in a temporary reduction of 17,000 b/d net after royalties to ConocoPhillips, the company said. CNOOC said its net production from the two platforms before the shutin was 22,000 b/d.

ConocoPhillips said seepage on the seabed was observed June 4 along a natural fault near Platform B. In a second incident, oil and gas bubbles were observed on the surface June 17 near Platform C, 2 miles from the Platform B seep. The bubbles were seen during drilling from the platform.

“The majority of seepage has been stopped” from Platform B, ConocoPhillips said. “A containment device was designed and constructed and put in place as a precaution should the seep occur from the main source again.”

Trace amounts of oil continue to seep intermittently near the original seep, occasionally causing minor surface sheens, ConocoPhillips said. Workers deployed booms to contain and collect oil.

A cementing procedure stopped the release near Platform C within 48 hr, and the well was stabilized, plugged and abandoned, ConocoPhillips said. Crews deployed absorbent boom, and cleanup operations continue.

ConocoPhillips estimated the aggregate amount of fluid spilled from the two incidents at 1,500-2,000 bbl of oil and oil-based drilling fluids. The company is working with independent experts to validate the estimate.

During these incidents, no oil sheen reached the shoreline, and there were no injuries to personnel, ConocoPhillips said.

An SOA spokesman told reporters in Tianjin, China, on July 12 that the agency is calling for intensified inspections of offshore operations and also is asking for closer coordination with local governments.

Separately, CNOOC reported a minor spill at Suizhong 36-1 oil field (OGJ Online, July 12, 2011).

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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