Equinor says must replace unsafe wells at its Martin Linge oilfield

OSLO, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Norway’s Equinor must drill several new wells at its much-delayed Martin Linge oil and gas field development in the North Sea in order to ensure safe operations when production starts, the company said on Tuesday.

“Four gas wells that were drilled at Martin Linge before 2018 have well barrier deficiencies that are considered to make them inappropriate for safe production,” Equinor said.

Up to three new wells will be drilled at a cost of around 2 billion Norwegian crowns ($222 million), Equinor said.

The operator, which holds a 70% stake in Martin Linge, said in May it had postponed the planned startup of the field to 2021 from 2020 previously. It had originally been due for completion in 2016.

Equinor is the operator of the field, with a stake of 70%. The other partner is state-owned oil firm Petoro. ($1 = 9.0278 Norwegian crowns) (Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche)