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January 5, 2018

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Oil and Gas

HSE ‘satisfied’ over North Sea pipeline repair – but investigation ongoing

The HSE has said it is satisfied with the repair work to an oil pipeline that cracked in December – causing production across more than 80 oilfields to be disrupted.

The Forties pipeline is part of an infrastructure network which is decades-old and transports crude oil – a determiner of half of the world’s physical oil prices.

In December, the pipe had to be repaired by contractor Ineos AG after cracks were found. The firm had purchased the pipe from BP only six weeks before discovering the crack. BP is yet to comment on the investigation – and has not released information at the time of writing about its own inspection record of the pipework.

It is believed that the damaged section of pipe was adjacent to rock – which may have been a contributing factor alongside the age of the network.

Appropriate standards

The HSE inspected the work, which is said was done ‘safely and to appropriate standards’, but said that an investigation into the incident was still ongoing. The pipeline was put back into service at the end of the month on December 30.

Ineos has said it continues to work with the HSE and that safety is its highest priority.

Technical specialist at HSE, Martin Wayland, also told Bloomberg that investigations were not automatically triggered by such incidents – and it was only when they were severe or unusual enough to justify investigation that it got involved.

Wayland also told the news outlet that the HSE regularly reviews its non-public major hazard prevention documentation to ensure compliance.

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