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Flows On Main UK North Sea Crude Oil Pipeline Reduced

Ineos, the operator of the main UK North Sea crude oil transport route, the Forties pipeline, said on Monday that it is progressively reducing to 150,000 bpd the flow on the Forties Pipeline System for repair on one of its three processing units.

The Forties pipeline is a key transit route for North Sea oil, and the Forties crude blend is the key component of the Brent-Forties-Oseberg-Ekofisk-Troll (BFOE) complex, which is the basis for the Brent futures contract. The Forties pipeline typically carries around 450,000 bpd, but can transport up to 600,000 bpd of North Sea oil onshore for refining. The pipeline carries around 40 percent of the UK’s oil and gas to the mainland, Ineos says.

“An operational issue with the main heater on Train 3 of the pipeline system at Kinneil requires immediate repair,” Ineos said in a statement today, adding that “The progressive reduction of flow through the pipeline is being managed with our customers and their offshore operations through this afternoon.”

Ineos initially expected the reduced flow to be in place for two days until midday on Tuesday UK time, but in Monday’s update, the company said that “based on our current understanding the repair is expected to take two to three days. Our view at the moment is that we would restart train 3 sometime between Wednesday and Friday this week, allowing our customers to ramp up to full rates.”

Commenting on the reduced flow at Forties, ING analysts said that they expect limited impact on the oil market if repair works are finished on time. However, “a prolonged period of reduced flows could provide some support to prompt Brent spreads.”  

At the end of 2017 and early 2018, a major outage at the Forties pipeline lasted for weeks and rattled the markets.

Earlier this year, Ineos said that it would be investing US$625 million (500 million British pounds) in the Forties Pipeline System, prolonging the life of the North Sea’s main oil and gas artery by at least 20 years into the 2040s.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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