UPDATE: BP’s Valhall Platform Still Shut Down Following Fire

Valhall platform Kjetil Alsvik BP HESS production platform

Image by Kjetil Alsvik

–Average production of 60,000 barrels equivalent a day to be lost as result of shutdown

–Accident to be investigated by Norwegian authorities, BP

–Any possible connection with 2009 incident to be probed by investigators.

(Adds details in paragraphs 4, 6, 7.)

LONDON (Dow Jones)–Production at a Norwegian North Sea oil platform operated by BP PLC (BP) remains shut down following a fire at the facility Wednesday, a BP spokesman said Thursday.

“It is a bit early to say [when production will resume]. We are looking into the damage caused then we will also be able to make a judgment as to the repairs required to have a safe start-up again,” BP spokesman Jan Erik Geirmo said.

He said he was expecting an update on the situation later Thursday morning.

The field produced on average 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day before the shutdown, said Geirmo. Most of the output belonged to New York-based Hess Corp. (HES), which has a 64.05% interest in the field. BP is the operator, with the remaining 35.95% interest.

Geirmo said the fire, which was detected in the compressor area on the platform, will be investigated by Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority as well as BP. All employees were evacuated to an adjacent bridge-linked platform and have been accounted for, said Geirmo, adding that there were no injuries.

This isn’t the first incident to shut down production at the facility. In March 2009, production was halted following a pipeline leak, an internal BP document showed. Geirmo said he didn’t think the two events were related but that it was “something that would be looked into.

“It would be unprofessional to speculate at this time, but clearly it will also be addressed by those investigating [the incident],” he said.

News of the fire comes at a time when BP is still struggling with the fallout of last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A rig that BP leased from Transocean Ltd. (RIG) exploded and sank in April 2010, unleashing the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

According to BP’s website, the Valhall production platform was built to process 168,000 barrels of oil and 350 million cubic feet of gas a day. The platform also processes oil and gas that comes from the Hod field, located about 13 kilometers south of Valhall.

At 0858 GMT, BP shares were down three pence, or 0.7%, at 453 pence amid a 0.5% lower FTSE 100 index.

-By Alexis Flynn, Dow Jones Newswires