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Lightning Strike Disrupts Key Oil Pipeline

The main UK North Sea crude oil transport route, the Forties pipeline, was shut down in the early hours on Friday after a lightning strike caused a power surge, the operator of the Forties Pipeline System (FPS), Ineos, said.

A lightning strike in the Cruden Bay area caused the power surge, which resulted in a loss of power to Cruden Bay. Following standard safety precautions, the Forties pipeline was fully shut down, the operator said.

Thunderstorms in northeast Scotland were the reasons for the lightning in the Cruden Bay area.

“We are now in recovery mode and working through our safe system start-up procedures and aims to restart by lunch today,” Ineos said in a statement on Friday.

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 Crude 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.

Related: Don’t Expect Oil Prices To Go Much Higher This Year

The shutdown of the Forties Pipeline comes as Buzzard, the largest producing oil field in the UK North Sea with a capacity of 150,000 bpd, has been completely shut down since Wednesday morning for repair works, the operator of the field Nexen said on Thursday, as carried by Reuters.

The Buzzard field off the coast of Scotland is the second-largest North Sea oil field in terms of current production after Troll in Norway, according to Rystad Energy.

Buzzard is the largest producing oil field in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) and contributes some 30 percent to the Forties Blend, one of the five crude streams underpinning the Dated Brent benchmark together with Brent, Oseberg, Ekofisk, and Troll. Around two-thirds of the world’s physical crude oil market is priced using Dated Brent. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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