Buzzard field hit by North Sea pipeline outage

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The 200,000 barrel a day Buzzard oil field in the North Sea is among dozens that must stop pumping as a key pipeline powers down due to a strike planned this weekend at a Scottish refinery, Nexen Inc, the field’s operator, said on Friday.

“As they go through those procedures, then we’ll get notice to do similar things. It just kind of piggybacks off that,” Nexen spokesman Mike Harris said. “Then we wait until they tell us we can bring it back up again.” BP Plc, which runs the Forties pipeline that supplies about half of Britain’s crude, started shutdown procedures on Friday.

The Grangemouth refinery, about 34 km (21 miles) northwest of Edinburgh and the target of the labor dispute, supplies electricity to the pipeline. The situation was a factor in a jump of more than $2 in world oil prices on Friday to $118.52 a barrel. Nexen is one of numerous Canadian energy companies with operations in the North Sea. Others with production affected by shutdown of the 700,000 bpd pipeline include Talisman Energy Inc, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and Oilexco Inc.

The Forties pipeline system ships crude from about 70 oil fields. The strike at the Ineos-operated refinery, due to start Sunday, has raised fears of fuel shortages in Scotland and northern England. Harris said it will take time for the Buzzard platform to return to normal rates when the pipeline starts running again. “You don’t flip it on and get straight to big rates again. It probably takes up to two days to ramp up to where we were before,” he said.

Talisman said the outage will affect 20,000 barrels of oil a day, or 22% of its UK output, for an estimated four to seven days. Production from its Montrose/Arbroath, Buchan/Hannay and Enoch fields is shipped through Forties. “My understanding is that they’re starting the shutdown procedures tonight, April 25,” Talisman’s Teri Keyser said. She stressed the firm’s estimated impact on annual production will be a negligible 500 barrels a day. The outage will hit Canadian Natural’s Tiffany, Thelma and Toni fields, which normally pump up to 12,000 barrels a day, or 25% of is North Sea output, it said.

For its part, Oilexco said 21,500 barrels a day of oil output at its Brenda/Nicol and Balmoral fields is affected. Nexen has a 43.2% stake in Buzzard. Its partners are Petro-Canada with 29.9%, BG Group with 21.7% and Edinburgh Oil & Gas with 5.2%. (Reuters)

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