Maersk seeks to shut three small oilfields in UK North Sea

A file picture of a Maersk container ship. PHOTO: REUTERS
A file picture of a Maersk container ship. PHOTO: REUTERS

COPENHAGEN (REUTERS) - Maersk Oil said on Wednesday it would seek regulatory permission to shut its Janice installation, which produces around 7,000 barrels per day (bpd) from three UK North Sea oilfields, as the Danish firm reviews its operations due to falling oil prices.

Crude prices have dropped by more than half from year-ago levels, hammering oil producers. But while operators have announced plans to cut jobs and sell oilfields, few have flagged a total shutdown in operations.

Maersk Oil said it would approach Britain's Oil and Gas Authority for approval to stop production from the second or third quarter of 2016.

It said 200 jobs may be affected by the review. Maersk Oil has already cut 200 jobs at its Copenhagen headquarters and in its Qatar and UK businesses.

Maersk Oil, a unit of shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk, also said it is considering a move to "three weeks on, three weeks off" offshore rotation to be implemented in the second quarter of 2016 in the UK.

The Maersk Group said earlier this month a variety of targets for its oil-related units including also Maersk Drilling, APM Terminals and APM Shipping Services would be replaced due to the "volatile environment" caused by oil prices.

Brent crude traded at US$43.21 (S$60.64) a barrel on Wednesday, compared to around US$100 a barrel in August last year before prices began their steep slide.