Cracking Sidelines North Sea Pipeline
A major crude oil pipeline in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland will remain out of service for two to four weeks after an inspection turned up cracking last week.
The Forties pipeline, which carries 30 percent of the U.K.’s oil, was taken out of service by operator Ineos on Dec. 11 after a hairline crack was uncovered on an onshore portion of the 36-inch pipeline south of Aberdeen.
The crack was discovered Dec. 6, along with what the company described as “a very small amount of oil seepage.” Initially, one family was evacuated from their home hear the site where the crack was discovered, but they were allowed to return home Dec. 14 when Ineos determined that there was no risk to them.
The crack initially grew slightly after its discovery, according to reports, but it then stabilized and stopped growing, the company says. No cause for the cracking has been released.
About the Pipeline
The Forties serves as a crucial conduit for the robust offshore industry in the North Sea, connecting 85 offshore drilling platforms to the U.K. mainland. The pipeline moves oil and gas liquids to Kinneil, in Scotland, where it is processed then delivered.
One family was briefly evacuated before the cracking was stabilized.
Ineos only acquired the Forties Pipeline System from BP in October; the current pipeline was built in the early 1990s to replace an earlier, smaller pipeline. According to Ineos, the pipeline “has played a major role in the development of the Central North Sea over the past 25 years.”
Forties carries 550,000 barrels per day, and more than 80 platforms in the North Sea have shut down production while the pipeline is out of commission, according to the BBC.
The BBC reports that the oil and gas industry misses out on about 20 million pounds ($26.8 million) daily with the pipeline out of operation.