1492382012037 - Oaonui Production Station flare off showed emergency procedures worked

Oaonui Production Station flare off showed emergency procedures worked

A huge flare off from a gas production station that gave nearby residents a scare on Sunday night showed emergency systems working as they should, Shell Todd says.

The flaring, at the Oaonui Production Station, near Opunake in coastal Taranaki, was caused about 7pm when the plant was shut down and fully de-pressurised  “due to a power fault caused by an electrical storm,” Stos spokeswoman Bridget Abernethy said.

Alarmed neighbours shared pictures and videos of the glowing orange sky and the flaring in full flight.

People from all around the coast and as far away as Patea reported seeing the glowing sky. 

READ MORE: Blaze fears unfounded

There was speculation the station was up in flames after being hit by lightning from an overhead thunderstorm.

But on Monday morning, Stos said that the plant’s emergency depressurisation systems worked as they were intended to.

“The process of de-pressurising involves releasing gas in a controlled manner – which is what could be seen in the local area last night,” Abernethy said.

“A team is working to complete detailed systems checks. It is anticipated production will resume later today.”

The production station processes gas and condensate from the offshore Maui field.

On Sunday night, David Meikle of the fire communications centre in Wellington said numerous calls from worried residents were received.

Fire brigades from Opunake, Rahotu and Kaponga were dispatched to investigate, but were quickly stood down.

“We are pleased that people did call us when they noticed it and were concerned,” he said.

Dinnie Moeahu, Opunake, said his sister-in-law was evacuated from her home directly opposite the production station for a short time, but had been able to return soon afterwards.

“She was cooking dinner and there was a lightning strike and everyone’s power flickered. As she was driving out, there were other people driving in to see it.”

He said his oldest son, Christian, saw the flames.

“I went for a ride to investigate. I saw a massive flame, I’ve lived in Opunake for 14 years and this is the first time I have seen the sky lit up like this. The kids were pretty shook up, it’s taken us a while to calm them down.”