A subsea pipeline that carries millions of cubic metres of gas condensate from an offshore well in Taranaki to an onshore production facility near Motonui was yesterday temporarily out of action after “bubbles” were detected coming from the structure.
The Taranaki Daily News reported gas production from the Pohokura offshore well was halted after a defect was found in a 10.8 kilometre pipe which carries gas condensate to an onshore production station operated by Shell New Zealand.
The 10.8 km pipeline carried up to 13 M cubic metres a day of gas condensate from offshore to the Pohokura production station for processing into natural gas for distribution to the North Island gas network.
The New Plymouth newspaper said the condensate was piped to storage tanks near New Plymouth and shipped to refineries.
Shell NZ general manager Rob Jager told Fairfax Media routine inspection of the pipeline using remote operated vehicle (ROV) found bubbling from the pipeline running between the offshore Pohokura Platform B and the onshore Pohokura pipeline.
Both the pipeline and production from the offshore Pohokura platform was shut down immediately to stop any discharge and an investigation was begun to find the cause of these bubbles, he said.
The Daily News reported that the company had notified stakeholders, including rural neighbours, iwi, joint venture parties, customers and relevant regulators. Inspection of the remainder of the pipeline failed to show any signs of more discharge in or around the pipeline.
“A dedicated project team on site and working with global pipeline manufacturers, Technip, and specialist contractors to investigate further and find both short and long-term options for testing and restarting the pipeline once we are satisfied it is appropriate to do so,” Jager said.
“Some good progress has been achieved and there are a number of parallel work streams in place focussed on understanding the problem and exploring potential solutions to allow us to start using the line again,” he reportedly said.
Taranaki Regional Council’s resource management director Fred McLay said senior staff had been briefed by Shell Taranaki about a small marine pipeline gas leak and the engineering options to address the leak.