By Oleg Vukmanovic, Reuters
A compressor leak at Angola's new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant has delayed loading programs and reduced output at the $10 billion project, which is due to shut for two months from July, a site manager said.
Delays caused by a leaking valve at an air compressor unit has meant that LNG initially due to start being pumped aboard a waiting vessel on Tuesday this week has been pushed back to Monday next week.
The leak will affect the export of Angola's third LNG shipment of 2014 for which it is currently collecting bids as part of a tender launched last week.
"Five days ago an air compressor issue arose with one of the valves somehow leaking," a site source said.
"We are in the process of changing that valve, although at the moment we are operating at less than 50 percent due to this problem," he said, confirming the delayed loading program.
Gas supplies from offshore fields to the liquefaction plant also suffered setbacks earlier this month after a platform problem at BP's Block 18 shut off flows.
"There were platform issues that briefly halted supply from Block 18 a few days ago but that has now been resolved," he said.
The interruption had limited impact on output given that the vast bulk of the plant's feedstock arrives from ExxonMobil's Block 15. Total's Block 17 provides the rest.
A rig capsize last July that caused one death is also set to delay efforts to link two Chevron-operated offshore blocks with the plant.
As a salvage operation gets underway to remove the wreck, stakeholders have sped up efforts to establish supply lines with more remote fields in BP's Block 31 to boost output, but that gas is not flowing yet, the source said.
Sixty days of comprehensive maintenance have been scheduled from July in order to tackle various technical issues.
The project is operated by U.S. oil major Chevron with a 36.4 percent shareholding, while Sonangol has a 22.8 percent stake. Other stakeholders include Total, BP and ENI.