The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has launched an investigation into an oil leak from Equinor's Statfjord A platform on November 26.

Early information indicates that the leak came from one of the storage cells in Statfjord A's gravity based structure (GBS), the giant concrete jacket which rests on the seafloor and supports the platform topsides. The discharge was first detected when oil was sighted on the sea surface alongside the platform.

The discharge was quickly halted. According to Equinor, the volume released is estimated at roughly 11,000-21,000 gallons of oil.

An team of PSA investigative specialists is now starting its work. The scope of the inquiry will include determining the sequence of events, identifying direct and underlying causes, determining the consequences of the pollution and pursuing enforcement action if necessary.

Statfjord is a field in the Tampen area in the northern part of the North Sea, and it is located on the border between the Norwegian and UK sectors. The Statfjord A platform, the oldest of three facilities at the field, came online in 1979. Previous spills at Statfjord A include a 25,000-barrel release during tanker loading operations in 2007, a shaft leak resulting in the discharge of 7,500 barrels of oily water in 2008, two spills related to loading buoys in 2015 and one spill related to loading operations earlier this year.

Statfjord A was designed to sunset its operations in 1999, but it has since undergone nine rounds of life-extension overhauls. Equinor announced in May that it plans to shut the platform down by 2022, but Stavanger Aftenblad reported Monday that the company's executives are now considering plans to extend its life once again. If approved, a refit at Statfjord A would be in line with Equinor's recent strategy on the Norwegian Continental Shelf: in the past three years, it has received approval to extend operations at eight older facilities - Gullfaks A, B and C, Oseberg East, Snorre A and B, Norne and Åsgard A.

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