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Production at Maari oilfield off the coast of Taranaki, New Zealand, has been halted due to a crack in its wellhead platform.

Field operator OMV New Zealand reported that a 1.4m crack was discovered in the third level of the platform during standard underwater checks.

Depite there being no risk to employees or the environment, OMV has stopped production and took 30 of its employees to shore as a precaution, reported Stuff.co.nz.

Repair works currently are being undertaken.

OMV senior vice-president for Australasia Gabriel Selischi was quoted by the news website as saying: “The issue is that we have bad weather approaching this weekend, and New Zealand also has a heightened earthquake risk, so we are taking a precautionary approach.”

"The crack was caused by fatigue on level 3, exactly where the wave and wind pressure is greatest."

An OMV spokesperson was quoted by the website as saying: “The crack was caused by fatigue on level 3, exactly where the wave and wind pressure is greatest.”

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The company stated that it is not possible to determine if the damage was caused by the significant earthquake that struck the country on 22 November.

Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) chief executive Cameron Madgwick stated that installations built under the sea are sturdy to withstand such strong forces. He was also satisfied with the quick response from the OMV team.

Maari platform was scheduled to close for 15 days starting 5 December. During this period, a water injection flow-line was scheduled to be installed.

After reporting damage, the facility had to be closed immediately. The company did not state for how long the platform would remain closed.

Selischi was quoted as saying: “Work has started on stabilising the crack and we are actively monitoring it in the meantime.

“We've engaged specialist advisors to assist in this work, and have been keeping both WorkSafe and Maritime New Zealand fully informed.”

The facility has 12 horizontal struts. It comprises six levels of the structure that are supported by four structural legs with 20 vertical cross-members.