Pipeline operator Ineos said a small crack on the Forties pipeline system discovered inland south of Aberdeen is stable. Photo courtesy of Ineos
Dec. 14 (UPI) -- While declaring force majeure over contracts for the Forties pipeline system in the North Sea, operator Ineos said a crack triggering the shutdown is stable.
The operator said Thursday its engineers and technicians are examining a hairline crack discovered on an inland section of the pipeline last week south of Aberdeen.
"Continued assessment of the pipeline since Monday has confirmed that the hairline crack has stabilized and no further growth has been recorded for 48 hours," the company said in a statement.
The system, which Ineos acquired from British energy company BP in April, carries about 40 percent of the oil produced in the British waters of the North Sea, or about 450,000 barrels of oil per day. Ineos confirmed a formal declaration of force majeure on contracts for the system after a number of fields closed as a result of the disruption.
"We apologize to our customers and the local community for the issues that this creates and we are working hard to minimize the impact of the pipeline closure as far as possible," the company said.
Force majeure is a contractual condition related to circumstances beyond the control of the parties involved. The closure of the system triggered a 2 percent spike in the price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for the price of oil and component of the basket of oils fed into the Forties system. Oil prices have since moderated and given up most of the gains from the start of the week.
The Forties system carries production from more than 85 fields in the North Sea, as well as a few from Norwegian waters to inland refineries. Deirdre Michie, the chief executive at trade group Oil & Gas U.K., said this week the industry was out about a quarter million dollars a day because of the outage.
Ineos paid BP around a quarter billion dollars to acquire the 235-mile Forties pipeline system.