First ruling released on removal of BWO vessel from Tui oil field
27 March 2020
First ruling issued for proposal to disconnect vessel from Tui oil field.
The EPA has issued a ruling that allows BW Offshore (BWO) to disconnect the mooring lines and retrieve the anchors of its vessel in the Tui oil field.
The ruling is one of two rulings sought by BWO for a series of activities required to remove its vessel from the Tamarind oil field off the coast of Taranaki.
In effect, BWO cannot yet begin to disconnect its vessel, as the other activities required to disconnect are the subject of a second ruling that is still to be determined.
The EPA has determined that the effects on the environment and existing interests of disconnecting the mooring lines and retrieving the anchors are likely to be “minor or less than minor”.
BWO sought two rulings to allow it to remove its vessel
BW Offshore (BWO) wishes to remove its vessel (Floating Production and Storage Offloading ship – FPSO) from the Tui oil field. Oil production in the Tui field has stopped due to the insolvency of operator Tamarind Taranaki Limited (TTL).
There is a series of activities that would have to happen in sequence before BWO could remove its FPSO (the Umuroa).
BWO sought two rulings from the EPA to allow it to proceed:
- The first ruling covers the disconnection of the mooring lines and retrieval of the anchors.
- The second ruling covers the disconnection of the FPSO from equipment on the seafloor.
Disconnection of the mooring lines and retrieval of the anchors are activities that would occur at the end of the sequence of activity to remove the FPSO. First, the FPSO would need to be disconnected from the equipment on the seafloor. However, this activity is the subject of the second ruling, and this ruling has not yet been decided.
None of the activity covered by either the first or the second ruling can happen until the second ruling is decided.
In deciding the first ruling, the EPA sought the views of parties with existing interests including four iwi in Taranaki, and Tamarind Taranaki Ltd.
Rulings are issued on activity that started before the EEZ Act
Rulings allow petroleum operators to continue with activities that existed before the EEZ Act came into force.
The EPA can issue a ruling only if it considers the adverse effects of the activities, on the environment or existing interests, are likely to be minor or less than minor.
Rulings are provided under s162(2) of the EEZ Act.
Compliance action in relation to BWO activity
The EPA is currently taking compliance action against BWO in relation to activities it was undertaking in the Tui oil field.
The EPA served four abatement notices on BWO and a BWO staff member.
This compliance activity is a separate matter from the ruling that was issued today and the second ruling that is still being considered by the EPA.