BP has stopped an oil leak from its Foinaven oilfield west of Shetland but production is expected to remain shut down for some time.
The hairline fracture in an eight-inch steel flowline on the seabed was discovered early on Sunday morning during an inspection using a remotely operated vehicle. The leak was 450 metres below the surface and about two miles away from the point where oil flows up to the production storage vessel Petrojarl Foinaven.
A BP spokesman said today the flowline had been isolated and the leak stopped within 50 minutes of discovery. The problem has been blamed on a failed bracket where the line connects into a subsea assembly.
The oil company said there was no sign of pollution from what was “a pretty small crack from a relatively small line” which is used for testing wells and contains about 88 per cent water and only 12 per cent oil.
It is not yet known when production will resume but it could be weeks rather than days.
BP said it had immediately informed the Coastguard, police, Health and Safety Executive and the UK government. The incident is to be the subject of a BP investigation.
Foinaven was the first of the west of Shetland fields to begin oil production when it started 14 years ago, followed by Schiehallion and Clair. Its oil used to be landed for storage at Flotta in Orkney but these days it is transported straight to the oil market by tankers.
The field’s production ship is owned and operated by TeeKay Petrojarl Production.