Key North Sea Oil Pipeline Approaches Full Service After Repairs

(Bloomberg) -- One of the world’s most important crude oil pipeline networks is nearing a return to full service following an unexpected shutdown this month, as operator Ineos AG completes repairs and ends flow limitations.

“All restrictions on the flow of oil and gas from platforms feeding into the pipeline system have been fully lifted,” the company said Thursday in a statement. Ineos plans to bring the pipeline, as well as the Kinneil processing plant, “progressively back to normal rates around new year,” it said.

More than 80 fields feed into the Forties Pipeline System. Some of the largest, including the Buzzard field, are set to reach full production rates today, according to people with knowledge of the matter. FPS, as the artery is known, typically receives 30 to 35 percent of its oil from Buzzard.

The Forties oil stream was originally scheduled to load about 400,000 barrels a day of crude in December. This figure is now expected to fall to 150,000 barrels, revised loading programs show, after a hairline crack resulted in a full shutdown on pipeline system. Ineos has maintained that the FPS would return to service within two to four weeks from early December.

Offshore production from Total’s Elgin-Franklin field is back to its technical capacity, while gas deliveries are also due to return to normal levels Thursday. The area pumped around 60,000 barrels a day of oil into the Forties crude blend in the first half of this year, according to data for the U.K.’s Oil & Gas Authority.

BP Plc was restarting its Bruce and Eastern Trough Area Project fields, the company said Wednesday. Together they pump nearly 30,000 barrels a day. Apache Corp.’s 35,000 barrel-a-day Forties field restarted output on Dec. 23.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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