The UK Health and Safety Executive is investigating the causes of a crack in a key North Sea oil pipeline that disrupted manufacturing at greater than 80 fields for weeks.

While an HSE spokesman couldn’t remark additional on the matter, such investigations aren’t robotically triggered. Incidents have to be extreme or uncommon sufficient to satisfy the regulator’s standards for a probe, mentioned Martin Wayland, a member of the watchdog’s fuel and pipeline group.

The shutdown of the Forties Pipeline System roiled oil markets from the U.S. to Asia. The hyperlink is vital as a result of it transports the only largest constituent a part of Dated Brent crude, a benchmark that underpins greater than half the world’s bodily oil costs. The fault on the 40-year-old community underscored the dangers inherent in Europe’s growing older vitality infrastructure.

HSE inspectors examined restore work by the pipeline’s operator, Ineos AG, and decided it was completed “safely and to acceptable requirements” earlier than the conduit returned to service on Dec. 30, the spokesman mentioned. The regulator’s investigation is ongoing and it’s unclear when it might end.


Ineos acquired the Forties pipeline from BP Plc for $250 million about six weeks earlier than saying the invention of the crack in December. Ineos director Tom Crotty mentioned in an interview with Bloomberg tv the broken space of the pipe abutted a rock, which can have induced an issue. He additionally pointed to the age of the hyperlink as one other threat issue.

Inspection report

A BP spokesman declined to touch upon the investigation and the corporate hasn’t publicly disclosed particulars of its inspection report throughout the time it owned and operated Forties. Richard Longden, an Ineos spokesman, mentioned the corporate will “proceed to work with HSE to offer them with data as required,” and that “security has been and continues to be our highest precedence.”

The HSE’s Wayland, who couldn’t discuss particularly in regards to the Forties investigation, mentioned the watchdog’s main function is judging the habits of operators.

Companies have inside insurance policies summarized in a “main hazard prevention doc” that the HSE usually opinions to make sure compliance with UK regulation and greatest practices, Wayland mentioned. They additionally make sure that operators are appropriately finishing up security procedures outlined within the coverage. Those paperwork are sometimes not public.

Though pipelines within the UK are a few years previous, they’re usually well-maintained and usually inspected, Wayland mentioned.

“Historically we don’t have an enormous problem within the UK with pipelines, not less than not from an age standpoint,” he mentioned by phone from London. “Pipelines are inspected and defects are recognized and there are requirements in opposition to which defects are judged.”

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If the HSE determines there’s a violation it might probably take remedial measures starting from verbal directions to referring corporations to prosecutors. There are not any public enforcement actions straight associated to the Forties pipeline in HSE’s public database from prior inspections.


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