Work starts to get oil flowing again after second leak this year

The operators of the troubled Cormorant Alpha platform have begun the process of restoring the flow of oil through the Brent pipeline system after a small leak forced a second shut-down in just two months.

Taqa Bratani has launched renewed efforts to see 80,000 barrels per day rushing through the network.

The pipeline, which is operated by Taqa and runs through Cormorant Alpha, was halted after a small hydrocarbon release was detected in one of the platform’s legs on Saturday.

At the time, 71 non-core personnel were taken off the platform, which lies 94 miles north east of Lerwick. There were 145 people on the rig when the leak was discovered at around 9.40am.

The incident closely mirrored an earlier episode in January, when a similar problem at the platform sparked calls for better maintenance of ageing oil installations in the North Sea.

Neither January’s oil leak, nor the latest incident, resulted in oil being released into the environment, however.

A statement released from Taqa yesterday said investigations had found no connection between the Brent pipeline system and the pipeline involved in the release.

“The process of restarting Brent throughput follows a thorough technical evaluation that shows it is safe to do so without any increased risk to Cormorant Alpha,” Taqa said.

“The hydrocarbons released were contained within the platform leg and none entered the environment. The leak has now been contained with no further oil release.”

Cormorant Alpha normally handles approximately 90,000 barrels per day of crude oil feeding the Brent pipeline system, including approximately 10,000 barrels in Cormorant Alpha production. Yesterday Cormorant Alpha production remained closed while work on the platform leg continued.


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