Ineos starts testing Forties pipeline after repairs

Grangemouth refinery operator Ineos said on Christmas Day that it expects to bring its crucial North Sea Forties Pipeline and its Kinneil facility “progressively back to normal rates” early in the new year.

“Ineos continues to make good progress towards the restart of the Forties Pipeline System,” said Ineos.

“The repair of the pipeline at Red Moss is now mechanically complete and pressure testing is well underway.

“A small number of customers are now sending oil and gas through the pipeline at low rates as part of a coordinated plan that allows Ineos to carefully control the flow and pressure in the system.”

Ineos said on December 11 it shut down its Forties Pipeline System, which delivers almost 40% of the UK’s North Sea oil and gas output, to repair a crack in the pipe just south of Aberdeen.

A few days later Ineos declared “force majeure” on all shipments of crude oil, natural gas and condensates through the Forties system that has shut off vital energy supplies to the UK.

Force majeure, which suspends a company’s contractual obligations in the wake of situations that lie beyond its control, is rare in the North Sea.

In its latest statement, Ineos added: “Once the pressure in the system is stable Ineos will initiate the steps necessary to start re-commissioning the Kinneil facility, which is expected to begin in the next 24 hours.

“It is expected that there will be increased flaring at the site as we begin restarting the system.

“Ineos will complete this work as quickly as possible but safety is the highest priority.

“Based on current estimates the company expects to bring the pipeline and Kinneil progressively back to normal rates early in the new year. ”