LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Britain’s Forties oil pipeline was shut on Wednesday after the unexpected closure of a feed control valve connecting to the Kinneil gas plant, traders said, just over a month after restarting following a major outage.
A spokesman for Ineos, the pipeline operator, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The pipeline, which pumps about 450,000 barrels per day, was previously shut in mid-December for about three weeks after the discovery of a crack. Ineos had to declare force majeure on exports and the outage pushed up global oil prices.
In a note to customers, Ineos said that “when these valves close, then this requires FPS (Forties Pipeline System) to shut down the pipeline system”.
It said the operator had mobilised a team to investigate the cause of the valve closure and was therefore not yet able to give a timeline for a restart.
Forties is the biggest of the five North Sea crude grades underpinning dated Brent, a benchmark used for oil trading in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The pipeline was originally built to bring oil ashore from the vast Forties field. Over time, more oil and gas fields, now in excess of 50, were linked to it.
Royal Dutch Shell said production at its Shearwater platform in the North Sea had been shut down as a result of the outage. The Nelson field, which also connects to the pipeline, had already been closed for maintenance, a spokesman said.
Total said it had to stop gas exports from its Elgin Franklin terminal due to the Forties pipeline outage.