North Sea Forties Pipeline System Fully Operational, Ineos Says

(Bloomberg) -- The North Sea’s Forties Pipeline System -- one of the world’s most important crude oil conduits -- is fully back in business after being shut earlier this month due to the discovery of a hairline crack.

“Ineos confirms the Forties Pipeline System is fully operational,” operator Ineos AG said Saturday in a statement. “All restrictions on the flow of oil and gas from platforms feeding into the pipeline system have been lifted and virtually all platforms are now on line.”

The company also said a force majeure declared Dec. 13 has been lifted and that crude oil loadings from the Hound Point terminal in Scotland are expected to resume this weekend. Force majeure is a legal measure that protects suppliers when they can’t fulfill contractual obligations for reasons beyond their control.

The completion of repair work and the reopening of the pipeline system, commonly known as FPS, means the network can resume operations as normal heading into the new year. More than 80 fields feed into the Forties Pipeline System, which Ineos purchased from BP Plc earlier this year. About 450,000 barrels of oil a day flow through the pipeline when it is operating normally.

Following the FPS shutdown on Dec. 11, Ineos said it would take two to four weeks to bring the pipeline system back into service. The company earlier this week announced that it had lifted all restrictions on the flow of oil and natural gas platforms feeding into the system and that normal rates would resume around the new year. Some of the larger fields had also resumed production.

The Kinneil processing plant linked to the pipeline has now restarted and all products are in specification, Ineos said. The crude oil tanker Antonis was scheduled to arrive at Hound Point on Saturday, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg, though it’s not clear whether the vessel will be the first to load as flows return to normal.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.