Total halts gas field expansion in Barents Sea

Norwegian oil company Statoil said Tuesday it and its partners Total and GDF Suez have decided to drop plans to expand the Snohvit natural gas field in the Barents Sea as unjustified given current discoveries.

Total halts gas field expansion in Barents Sea
Photo: Steven Straiton

The partners "concluded that the current gas discoveries do not provide a sufficient basis for further capacity expansion," said a Statoil statement.

"With new gas discoveries increased capacity may again be considered," it added.

The three companies have been exploring for the past 18 months whether to build a pipeline or another plant to liquefy the natural gas.

Statoil said no decision was reached on which option would be preferable.

The companies will focus on making better use of the current system of taking gas via an undersea pipeline to an onshore LNG plant, it added.

Statoil holds 36.79% in the field and is the operator. French companies Total and GDF Suez hold 18.4% and 12% stakes.

Petoro, the state-owned company which manages Norway's interest in energy exploration and production projects, holds a 30% stake, and Germany's RWE Dea 2.81%.

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Fire erupts at France’s largest oil refinery

Firefighters brought a fire at the largest oil refinery in France under control Saturday, local officials said, hours after it started in the small hours of the morning.

Fire erupts at France's largest oil refinery
An automatic hose working to extinguish a flame at the Total oil refinery at Gonfreville-l'Orcher on Saturday. Photo: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP
The blaze broke out at one of Total's oil refineries near the port city of Le Havre, northwestern France, at 4am said officials at the prefecture of the Seine-Maritime region.
By dawn, smoke was pouring out across the region reaching as far as 10 kilometres (six miles) away. About 50 firefighters worked to bring the blaze under control.
A smell of hot tar hung over the zone, an AFP photographer noted, and although tests for air pollution near the plant were negative, for a few hours the prefecture advised residents to stay indoors.
In a statement they said a pump fault appeared to have caused the fire.
Total confirmed in its statement that the fire appeared to have been caused at a feed pump.
Nobody had been injured and all those at the site, which employs around 1,500 people, had been accounted for, it added.
But the incident comes only a day after safety officials approved the partial reopening of a factory in the northwest city of Rouen — which suffered a fire last September — over the objections of some local officials.
The blaze at the plant in Rouen on September 26 sent billowing clouds of soot as far as 22 kilometres away, prompting evacuations and school closures over potential health risks.
Both the factory at Rouen and the refinery near Le Havre are classified high-risk on the Seveso scale measuring industrial risk.
Tests for air pollution near the plant were negative but the prefecture advised residents to stay indoors.
Total said in a statement that no one was injured and that all those at the site, which employs around 1,500 people, have been accounted for.