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North Sea pipeline system reopens

22 January 2013

Abu Dhabi National Energy Company confirmed on January 18 that flows of crude had resumed in the Brent pipeline system following a precautionary shutdown five days earlier after a leak on its Cormorant Alpha platform. The Brent system runs through Cormorant Alpha and was shut after hydrocarbons were detected in one of the platform’s legs. 

Work is underway to repair the leak in the leg of the Cormorant Alpha platform
Work is underway to repair the leak in the leg of the Cormorant Alpha platform

The process of restarting the Brent system followed a thorough technical evaluation and safety assessment.

The Cormorant Alpha platform normally handles about 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil feeding the pipeline system, including approximately 10,000 bpd of Cormorant Alpha production. Crude oil flows in the Brent pipeline system are expected to rise to approximately 80,000 bpd as other platforms in the Brent system return to normal operations.

Oil and Gas UK - the offshore industry body - said oil transported through the Brent system represented between 5% and 6% of the UK's North Sea oil and gas production.

Cormorant Alpha is a crucial pumping station on the Brent pipeline network. Some 27 North Sea oilfields were affected by the shutdown and eight other platforms saw production suspended: Dunlin, Thistle, Northern Producer, Murchison, North Alwyn, Tern, Eider and North Cormorant.

Cormorant Alpha production remains closed while evaluations and work on the platform leg continues. The hydrocarbons released are fully contained within the Cormorant Alpha platform leg, and there has been no leak to the external environment. Work so far has mitigated the release and plans are being assessed for the repair of the affected line, which is not connected to the Brent pipeline system.

There were 159 people on board Cormorant Alpha when the release was discovered on Monday. On Tuesday, 92 non-core personnel left the platform and three specialists came aboard to help resolve the incident. All these people are accounted for and safe.

Cormorant Alpha is operated by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company UK subsidiary TAQA Bratani Ltd and is located 95 miles from Lerwick in the Shetland Islands.

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