The shutdown of oil pipelines at the Sullom Voe terminal in Shetland will be only a “mild irritant” to operators, according to a leading petro-economist.
Operator EnQuest confirmed on Thursday that a “minor fault” had been found during an inspection, leading to an immediate shutdown of both the Brent and Ninian pipe systems.
It means some North Sea platforms have been forced to temporarily stop production.
Among them are four Taqa platforms in the northern North Sea. However, EnQuest said the pipelines, which together transport around 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, will resume operations on Sunday.
Professor Alex Kemp, from Aberdeen University, said: “The volumes are much lower than they used to be, but 100,000 barrels is still a significant amount.
“The platforms will have to stop producing so long as the shutdown remains in place but if it is only until Sunday then it is just a mild irritant.”
The disruption comes at a time when wider crude oil flows from the North Sea have declined due to a mixture of maintenance and unplanned work.
Professor Kemp does not expect the shutdown to have any lasting impact on operations but he added: “There’s no good time for something like this.
“The prices are over 70 dollars a barrels so the value is relatively high.” EnQuest has confirmed it will advise users of the terminal and will keep them regularly updated with progress.
A spokeswoman for Taqa said: “As a result of a shutdown at the Sullom Voe Terminal, production has ceased from all Brent System and Ninian pipeline entrants, which includes all TAQA northern North Sea assets.”
The Health and Safety Executive has confirmed it is investigating.
A spokeswoman said:“HSE were contacted by EnQuest NNS and made aware of a controlled shutdown of the Brent and Ninian Pipelines.
“HSE are making further inquiries.”