A hydrocarbon leak recorded at the TAQA Bratani operated Cormorant Alpha platform in the North Sea, and subsequent closure of a Brent crude-oil pipeline system for maintenance, has brought the UK natural gas industry to a halt.
The platform will be up and running as soon as possible, said TAQA in a press release.
The closure has had several knock-on effects, as twenty-seven fields flow through the platform, a process that is on hold until it is again functional.
TAQA indentified the leak in one of the platform legs, the second leak in 2013, on Saturday morning during maintenance work and shut the platform and the Brent pipeline system as a precautionary measure.
The pipeline system supplies 100,000 barrels a day of the benchmark crude from North Sea fields to the export terminal at Sullom Voe, in the Shetland Islands, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Total SA’s St. Fergus terminal, north of Aberdeen, which supplies on average 21% of the gas used in Britain each day, is not able to operate as a result of the closure of the pipeline system.
The news agency quoted a Total spokesman as saying in an email statement: "The problem at Cormorant Alpha means we can’t export our condensates and, as it isn’t possible to produce gas without condensates, we have had to stop all hydrocarbon export from [our fields at] Alwyn [which flows to St. Fergus]…this has been the case since Saturday morning."
TAQA, in its release, said it has evacuated 71 non-essential personnel from the platform through crew change flights, and declared the whole crew as safe and well. The Cormorant Alpha platform is located 232 miles from Peterhead and 94 miles from Lerwick.
In January 2013, TAQA Bratani was forced to shut down the Cormorant Alpha and partially evacuate the platform as a result of a similar incident.
Another Total-operated gas field, Elgin-Franklin, is still closed after a leak discovered in 2012, while repair work at the UK’s largest oil field, the 200,000 barrel-a-day Buzzard, continues to reduce volumes of oil flowing to shore.
Image: The pipeline system delivers 100,000 barrels a day of crude from North Sea fields. Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / num_skyman.