BP Slows Production in Angola After Marlin Attacks Floating Platform

BP Slows Production in Angola After Marlin Attacks Floating Platform

Who would have though a fish could cut the flow of crude?
by John Pendleton  |   Monday, February 17, 2014
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British Petroleum's (BP) first project in Angola started in 2007 with five unique fields: Plutonio; Cobalt; Paladio; Galio; and Cromio. Production from Greater Plutonio is strong and reliable, delivered by a floating, production, storage and offload vessel (FPSO). Once the concessionaire’s approval has been received BP plans on bringing three additional fields on-stream: Platina, Cesio and Chumbo, all of which will be located in Block 18 where Greater Plutonio is currently found.

Greater Plutonio, Block 18 is located about 100 miles offshore and is said to have roughly 750,000,000 barrels of reserves, which qualifies it as one of the largest fields off the Angolan coast. The project is scheduled to be closed down in March for four weeks of maintenance.

The Project has the ability to pump roughly 180k barrels per day. That translates to about twenty million dollars in daily revenue; however technical issues have recently slowed the output. The expected maintenance work in March should correct the situation and restore production to normal levels as defined in BP's contracts with Angola's state-owned oil company, Sociedade Nacional de Combustveis de Angola (Sonangol).

Crude oil production contracts are very specific about output goals, schedules and conditions. They are legally binding agreements with built-in penalties for shortfalls in deliveries. One of the few ways an oil company can avoid being hit with penalties is the declaration of "Force Majure". Force majure is a legal term for conditions that are beyond the control of the parties involved. It is similar to when an insurance company denies a claim by saying that the cause of the loss was an "Act of God".

Earlier this month BP declared a force majure as production was slowed, but not halted, when a fish damages a hose that was connected to the FPSO.

The fish was apparently a Blue Marlin, is the fastest fish found anywhere and also one of the largest. The Blue marlin tends to spend most of its time in the warmer surface layers of deep waters far out to sea. They can be almost 15 feet in length and weight nearly a ton (2,000 pounds). Bloomberg News provides an excellent account of the event, but there are no details regarding the fate of the marlin involved or the possible release of any fluids from the FPSO.

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