Cormorant Alpha oil platform repair work begins

The Cormorant Alpha platform. Picture: TSPL
The Cormorant Alpha platform. Picture: TSPL
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WORK began today to restore the flow of oil through the giant pipeline system which handles production from the platforms responsible for ten per cent of Britain’s oil and gas output.

Almost 100,000 barrels a day of North Sea oil production has been lost since Saturday as the result of a leak in one of the giant legs on Taqa’s Cormorant Alpha platform, 94 miles east of Shetland. - the second incident on the installation this year.

The ageing platform is a vital production and pumping hub for the giant Brent pipeline system which handles production from 27 oil fields in the northern North Sea, feeding into the Sullom Voe oil terminal on Shetland.

The discovery of the second leak at the weekend led to the shutdown of oil output through the 95-mile Brent system. Following the discovery of the leak 71 non-essential personnel were flown off the platform, leaving a total of 74 personnel still on board.

A spokeswoman for the oil giant said today: “Taqa has begun the process of restoring the flow of an estimated 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in the Brent pipeline system following a precautionary shutdown on Saturday, 2 March.

“The pipeline system, which is operated by Taqa and runs through the Cormorant Alpha platform, was halted after a small hydrocarbon release in one of the platform’s legs was detected. Investigations have found there is 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.”

She continued: “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 bpd of crude oil feeding the Brent pipeline system, including approximately 10,000 bpd in Cormorant Alpha production.

“Cormorant Alpha production remains closed while work on the platform leg continues.”