North Sea gas flows disrupted by fracture of pipeline

The UK’s biggest pipeline from its North Sea oil and gas fields will probably be shut for several weeks for repairs after cracks in the pipe were found. The network carries a third of the UK’s gas produced offshore.

Operator INEOS told customers that it was “working to get the pipeline restored to full operation as quickly as we can safely do so… We have previously indicated a time frame of three to four weeks and we believe it is no less than two,” Reuters reported. The pipeline carries about 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude. INEOS only completed the purchase from BP in October. A minor leak caused a partial shutdown on December 7th and a full shutdown on December 11th. INEOS said the small crack had not increased in size over the previous 24 hours.

A number of producers including BP, Shell and Chrysaor, said they had closed down oil fields. The 180,000-bpd Buzzard oil field run by Nexen Petroleum UK Ltd, a subsidiary of China’s CNOOC, had also closed, said Reuters, citing two unnamed trading sources.

The closure created havoc with loading schedules in the North Sea. Cargo owners were reported to have been offered options to drop cargoes from the loading programme.

One analyst estimated the closure resulted in production loss for BP of 105,000 bpd, for Total of 55,000 bpd, for Chevron of 45,000 bpd, for Exxon Mobil of 40,000, for Eni of 25,000 bpd, for Shell of 25,000 bpd, for ConocoPhillips of 15,000 bpd.