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Norway’s Equinor shuts down its Snorre B oil rig as a precaution after earthquake

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The Equinor flag flies next to the company’s headquarters in Stavanger, Norway, December 5, 2019. Reuters/Intes Kalinins

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OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian company Equinor (EQNR.OL) said it has shut down its Snorre B oil rig as a precaution in the wake of the earthquake in the North Sea, although no damage has been reported so far.

It was not yet clear when Snorre B, which produces between 30,000 and 35,000 barrels per day of oil, could resume normal operation, said Jesel Liddell-Johansen, a spokesman for Equinor.

“Our focus now is on safety,” he said.

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Equinor said remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, have been deployed to scan the sea floor for any damage.

The Norwegian National Seismological Network said the quake, which occurred in the early hours of Monday morning, had a magnitude of 4.6.

Johansen said the quake was observed in the Senor field, which includes several platforms.

“At Snorre B, production has been closed as a precaution,” he said.

He added, “Snorr is the closest to the earthquake site and to the facilities that they felt…but (there are no) reports of any damage to the facilities or to the sea floor.”

While small earthquakes are common along Norway’s coast, a tremor of the magnitude seen on Monday occurs only once on average every decade, Lars Utermuleer, professor of seismology at the University of Bergen told the Bergens Tidende newspaper.

Norway is Europe’s second largest oil producer after Russia, producing about 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, roughly equally divided between oil and natural gas.

The Scandinavian country has said it will do everything in its power to maintain high oil and gas production as Western countries seek to wean themselves off Russian oil after the invasion of Ukraine last month.

Equinor owns a 33.3% stake in Snorre, while state oil company Petoro owns 30%, Vaar Energi (VAR.OL) owns 18.5%, INPEX Idemitsu holds 9.6% and Wintershall DEA 8.6%, according to Norwegian government data.

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(Reporting by Nora Polley and Terry Solsvik) Editing by Juladis Foch, Edmund Blair and Susan Fenton

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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