The Australian National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental management Authority (NOPSEMA) has issued a prohibition notice to Upstream Production Solutions Pty. Ltd. (UPS) as service provider and Northern Oil & Gas Australia (NOGA) as operator of the Northern Endeavour floating production, storage, and offloading vessel in the Timor Sea to halt all production and cease all operations immediately.
NOPSEMA said the notice was issued due to what it called an “immediate threat to health and safety” due to structural corrosion at the facility.
A regulatory inspection found that the FPSO was in a degraded state and there were major concerns over the technical integrity of critical structures and equipment on the vessel.
NOPSEMA said it had been notified on July 1 of a dangerous occurrence that described a dropped object of sufficient height and weight to cause a fatality. Upon inspection NOPSEMA identified structural defects due to corrosion at the facility that could lead to a structural failure under design load conditions. Such failure had the potential to cause an oil spill or gas leak with subsequent ignition leading to a major injury or multiple fatalities.
Northern Endeavour is permanently moored in 400 m of water between the Laminaria and Corallina oil fields in production licenses WA-18-L and AC/L5 in the western Timor Sea about 550 km northwest of Darwin. The vessel is of double hull design and was originally installed by a Woodside Petroleum Ltd.-operated group following discovery of the fields in the mid-1990s. Oil production began in 1999.
The FPSO has the capacity to hold 1.4 million bbl of oil and at peak production it processed 170,000 b/d.
Current operator NOGA, a subsidiary of Perth-based Timor Sea Oil & Gas Australia Pty. Ltd., bought 100% of the licenses and the FPSO from Woodside in April 2016. Recent production rate has been less than 5,000 b/d.
NOGA and UPS have been given 48 hr to shut down the facility. The companies have said they will work with NOPSEMA to understand the regulator’s concerns and take appropriate action to resolve those issues.