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Norway oil industry checks impact of pipes defect

Companies operating oil and gas fields offshore Norway are checking the scope and impact of sub-quality metal components found in pipe fittings, the Norwegian oil industry association (OLF) said.

“The involved operating companies are already working to determine the scope of the problem, and to repair the weaknesses,” the OLF said in a statement. “The quality discrepancies have not led to incidents on facilities.”

The suspect 4 inch (10 cm) steel fittings, produced by Italian manufacturer Raccortubi, are mainly used to connect small, process system pipes to each other, the OLF said.

The pipes carry either water or oil and gas on offshore and onshore facilities and can become more susceptible to cracks and corrosion because of the manufacturing defect caused by “incorrect heat treatment,” the lobby group said.

Raccortubi Group said it was working closely with the Norwegian side and had checked its production technology.

“We have been 're-qualified' to supply the offshore industry (since this incident), which shows that we have gone through the technical procedures so that this situation is not repeated,” Raccortubi Managing Director Luca Pentericci told Reuters.

Norway's biggest oil and gas producer StatoilHydro said the defect would most probably not affect its output.

“As far as we can see now, this will not impact production,” StatoilHydro spokesman Geir Gjervan said, adding that the company would make further assessments over the next month.

OLF spokesman Kjetil Hjertvik said that out of the roughly 23,000 possibly defective fittings delivered to Norway over the past three years, more than half had not been installed.

“It's a huge job to identify every piece. After Easter we will hopefully have more detailed information from operators,” Hjertvik said.

Pentericci said that according to preliminary data received by Raccortubi, a very limited amount of fittings were considered to have reduced resistance.

The defective components, delivered to projects around the world, were discovered during testing of a facility in Norway.

The OLF said operators and Norwegian safety authorities were in “close cooperation with the suppliers, who have dedicated substantial resources to resolving this problem.” (Reuters)