OSLO (Reuters) - BP shut a Norwegian oil and gas field after a potentially dangerous leak, the company said on Tuesday, six days after the incident forced the emergency shutdown of the facility.
"A substantial escape of hydrocarbons occurred on the Ula field in the Norwegian North Sea on 12 September," the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) said. "The PSA considers the incident to have had a substantial potential."
"The leak arose in the separator module on Ula's production platform," it added.
BP, still trying to rebuild its reputation after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, America's worst ever, said it shut the field and will not resume production until "the causes of the incident have been clarified and the conditions rectified."
Ula, held by operator, BP (80 percent) and Denmark's Dong (20 percent) is relatively small and mature, with production seen at 11,000 barrels per day this year.
Norway, the world's eighth biggest oil exporter, has significantly improved its safety record over the past decade and the number of acute spills has declined by around two thirds between 2001 and 2010, the PSA added.
Energy companies have also sped up their reporting and firms generally provide information relatively quickly.
Italian oil firm Eni, one of the top operators off Norway, reported within hours recently that one of its drilling right tilted dangerously in the Arctic Barents sea, triggering emergency preparations.
BP, which is disputing charges related to the Macondo spill, was accused by the U.S. Justice Department of gross negligence and willful misconduct, a position that could lead to nearly $21 billion in civil damages if a federal judge agrees.
BP shares were underperforming the market on Tuesday, with the stock trading down 2.8 percent at 1910 GMT, trailing the S&P oil and gas index, which fell 1.2 percent.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi, Editing by William Hardy and Sofina Mirza-Reid)