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Forties pipeline will be shut for weeks, not days

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World Pipelines,

The North Sea’s Forties Pipeline System, which delivers the main crude oil underpinning the Brent benchmark, is likely to be shut for “weeks” to carry out repairs to an onshore section of the line, a spokesman for operator Ineos has announced.

Ineos said in a statement on Tuesday: "It is too soon to say how quickly the repair will take at this point but it is expected to be a matter of weeks rather than days.

"We are working closely with government and other stakeholders to minimise the impact of the closure as far as possible on communities, our customers and the country."

The Forties pipeline carries crude North Sea oil across land for processing at Grangemouth.

A crack was discovered last week near Netherley in Aberdeenshire and a 300 m safety cordon is in place.

Deirdre Michie, Chief Executive of Oil and Gas UK, said: "We hope this can be resolved safely and as quickly as possible."

She said: "We have been in touch with Ineos and are closely monitoring the situation. "The shutting down of the Forties pipeline does cause significant issues for our industry, financially, operationally and commercially – 40% of oil production is now shut in and the resulting lost production is worth around £20 million per day at current oil prices to industry."

Ineos apologised to "our customers and communities".

More than 80 platforms are having to suspend production.

The move follows the worsening of a hairline crack in the 450 000 bpd pipeline near Red Moss in Aberdeenshire over the weekend.

The halt of the Forties Pipeline System after the discovery of a hairline crack matters to global crude markets more than most such incidents. The North Sea oil price, its relative price and a measure of the strength of the Brent crude market all surged after the halt. Oil refiners’ margins for processing North Sea oil also slumped.

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