Ineos confident FPS is safe following the discovery of a crack in December 2017.

The Forties Pipeline System (FPS) is safe, an Ineos spokesperson has confirmed.

The declaration follows the discovery of a crack in the FPS at Red Moss, south of Aberdeen, which resulted in a controlled shutdown of the pipeline Dec. 11.

“Ineos takes its responsibility for ‘safety, health and environmental’ very seriously and is fully committed to delivering a continually improving performance across all its operations,” the Ineos representative told Rigzone. 

“We have recently acquired the FPS but have already implemented a strict and regular inspection regime,” the spokesperson added.

Christopher Haines, head of oil and gas at BMI Research, supported the spokesperson’s claims, stating that the pipeline monitoring system did its job and prevented the crack from turning into a larger issue.

“While most infrastructure in the North Sea is aging, I think it would be unlikely that this becomes a regular occurrence,” Haines stated when asked if he thought similar structural weak-points could be found in the system in the near future.

The FPS was offline for a total of 17 days in December. According to Genscape’s oil markets and business development director, Hillary Stevenson, around 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of North Sea production was shut-in during this period.

“Ineos also reduced rates at the Grangemouth refinery due to the FPS shut down,” Stevenson said.

“The 110,000-bpd crude distillation unit (CDU) remained offline as of Dec. 27 after being shut since Dec. 15, and the 65,000 bpd CDU was briefly offline Dec. 13 to Dec. 14. Also at the refinery, the 39,600 bpd catalytic reformer was shut at 11:16 (GMT) Dec. 24,” Stevenson added.

Ineos revealed that the FPS had been shut for a second time in two months Feb. 7, due to an unexpected closure of the feed control valves on the pipeline supplying the Kinneil gas processing plant. The company said, however, that it aimed to restart the pipeline overnight.

Production from more than 80 North Sea fields is moved onshore via Ineos’ 1.15 million bpd FPS to the Kinneil crude stabilization plant, where oil and NGL combined flow is stabilized in three processing trains for consumption at Ineos’ 210,000 bpd refinery in Grangemouth, or exported via the Dalmeny, Scotland, storage terminal and Hound Point port.

The pipeline outage in December affected several oil and gas firms, including BP plc, Total SA, Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Eni, ConocoPhillips, EnQuest and Premier Oil.

Following the discovery of the crack, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it was investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident. HSE declined to comment on the expected completion date of the investigation but confirmed that it was still ongoing as of Jan. 4.

A recent Bloomberg article highlighted that these types of investigations are not automatically triggered by the UK Health and Safety Executive. Incidents must be severe or unusual enough to meet the regulator’s criteria for a probe, Bloomberg quoted Martin Wayland, a member of HSE’s gas and pipeline team, as saying.


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