Norwegian oil and gas plants restart after collision between tanker, frigate

Norwegian oil and gas plants restart after collision between tanker, frigate
Norwegian frigate could sink after being rammed by oil tanker in harbour
A Norwegian frigate takes on water after colliding with an oil tanker on Nov. 8, 2018, in the Hjeltefjord near Bergen.

An oil tanker and a Norwegian navy frigate collided off Norways west coast on Thursday, injuring eight people and triggering the temporary shutdown of a North Sea crude export terminal, Norways top gas processing plant and several offshore fields.

The frigate, which recently took part in a major NATO military exercise, was aground and tilting on one side, live television pictures showed. The Norwegian military was attempting to save the ship.

We are working on stabilizing the vessel, Norwegian Navy Counter-Admiral Nils Andreas Stensoenes told a news conference, adding that the eight injured were all Navy crew. Some 137 crew were on board at the time of the accident.

We are very glad that no lives got lost and that the injuries are not more serious than they are, he added.

Police and the national Accident Investigation Board were investigating the accident, which took place at 0326 GMT.

The tanker had left Equinors Sture oil shipment terminal with a cargo of crude, and the facility was shut for several hours on Thursday as a result.

The Kollsnes gas plant, with a processing capacity of 144.5 million cubic meters per day, was also shut for several hours.

Both the Sture terminal and the Kollsnes plant were restarting on Thursday afternoon, Equinor said in a statement.

Kollsnes processes gas from the Troll, Kvitebjoern and Visund fields for Britain and the rest of Europe. The Troll A platform was also restarting operations after its earlier temporary shutdown, Equinor said.

U.K. wholesale gas prices were up ahead of news of the incident and increased further afterwards. Gas for immediate delivery was up 6.2 per cent at 66.50 pence per therm at 1136 GMT. Norway is a major supplier of gas to Britain so big outages can impact U.K. gas prices.

Norwegian outages due to the collision have prompted extra buying. The market was already quite bullish due to lower temperatures, a British gas trader said.

There was no sign of a leak from the oil tanker, although it would return to port for inspection, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre for southern Norway told Reuters.

The Sture terminal receives oil via pipelines from North Sea fields, including Oseberg, Grane, Svalin, Edvard Grieg and Ivar Aasen, which in turn is exported to global markets on tankers. Oseberg, Grane and Ivar Aasen were restarting output after being shut, their operators said.

Oil output from the fields delivering to the Sture terminal was around 350,000 barrels per day in August, the latest data available from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate showed.

The Sture terminal has a capacity to store one million cubic meters of crude oil and 60,000 cubic meters of liquefied petroleum gas in rock chambers.

LPG mix and naphtha are also exported from the terminal via the Vestprosess pipeline to the Mongstad oil terminal.

Oseberg is one of the crude streams underpinning the global Brent oil benchmark. Brent crude futures were down 21 cents at $71.86 a barrel by 1249 GMT.

Production at the Edvard Grieg field was shut on Thursday, a source with knowledge of its operations said. It was not immediately clear whether output had restarted there too.

The Sola TS, an Aframax class vessel built in 2017, belongs to Tsakos Energy Navigation, the companys website says.

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The Norwegian frigate KNM Helge Ingstad, right, after a collision with the tanker Sola TS, in Oygarden, Norway, Thursday Nov. 8, 2018. (Marit Hommedal/NTB Scanpix via AP)

COPENHAGEN — A Norwegian Navy frigate carrying a crew of 137 was rammed by a tanker while in a harbour on the countrys west coast Thursday, tearing a large hole in its side, the military said.

Eight people on the KNM Helge Instad were slightly injured — two of whom were taken to a nearby hospital — in the 4 a.m. accident in Sture, north of Bergen, said Rear Adm. Nils Andreas Stensoenes, the head of Norways Navy.

The crew were evacuated amid fears the vessel would sink. The ship, which had recently taken part in the vast NATO drill Trident Juncture in Norway, is "strongly listing," Stensoenes told a news conference Thursday afternoon. The frigate was lying in the water almost on its side with its stern under the water.

The Maltese-flagged tanker, Sola TS, was not damaged and its 23-man crew remained on board. The shipping site Sysla reported that the tanker had been loaded with crude oil and was on its way to Britain.

Stensoenes said the cause of the accident was not clear and the Navy would wait for the findings of Norways Accident Investigation Board. Earlier reports had said a towboat was also involved in the accident, but Stensoenes denied this.

Some 10,000 litres of helicopter fuel from the frigates tanks leaked into the sea, Johan Marius Ly of the Norwegian Coast Guard said. The fuel was expected to evaporate quickly.

Stensoenes said the frigate had been pushed by towboats into shallow waters where it could not sink fully. "We are in a security phase for the time being," he added. He declined to comment on what would happen to the weapons on board the ship.

The frigate is part of a NATO fleet in the Atlantic and the alliance has been informed of the accident, he told reporters.

Norways largest oil and gas company, Equinor, formerly known as Statoil, said it shut down non-emergency activities at the Sture terminal where the collision occurred "as a precautionary measure."

The Accident Investigation Board added that because the tanker is Maltese-registered, the Marine Safety Investigation Unit (MSIU) of Malta will also participate in the investigation.