December 18, 2017 / 11:49 AM / a year ago

Ineos sticks with 2-4 week Forties pipeline repair estimate, assessing damage

LONDON (Reuters) - Repairing Britain’s Forties crude oil pipeline in the North Sea is still expected to take two to four weeks, operator Ineos said on Monday, as assessment continues a week after it was closed down.

The system, which carries around 450,000 barrels per day of Forties crude to Britain, along with a third of the UK’s total offshore natural gas output, has been closed since last Monday after a routine inspection revealed a crack in an onshore section of the pipe.

“We are currently monitoring the pipeline and working through some of the solutions for repair,” spokesman Richard Longden said, adding the crack had not grown in the last week.

Ineos on Dec 13 was forced to declare force majeure on deliveries of Forties crude oil, natural gas and condensate, suspending its contractual obligations to customers due to circumstances beyond its control. The privately-owned chemicals company based in Switzerland bought the pipeline system from BP (BP.L) in late October.

It has told clients it expects any repair work to take between two and four weeks, an estimate that has not changed in the last week.

Forties is the biggest of the five North Sea crudes that underpin Brent, a benchmark for oil trading in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were up around 0.25 percent on the day at $63.39 (£47.44) a barrel by 1132 GMT, having touched $65 following the outage last week, the highest since mid-2015.

Reporting by Amanda Cooper; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely

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