Nexen said today that it has temporarily shut down the Buzzard, the North Sea’s biggest producing field, in light of the Forties pipeline closure.
Pipeline owner Ineos has said it will take “weeks rather than days” to fix the leak, which was detected during a routine inspection at Netherley last week.
The 235-mile pipeline system links more than 80 North Sea field to the UK mainland and the Ineos site in Grangemouth. It delivers almost 40% of the UK’s North Sea oil and gas production.
Ineos completed a deal to buy the system from BP for up to £190million ($250million) at the end of October.
The petrochemicals giant said late last week that it had lowered the pressure in the pipeline after identifying the hairline fracture, but did not have to shut it down.
But yesterday Ineos said the crack had got bigger, forcing it into a controlled shutdown.
Nexen, owned by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, said last month that Buzzard was producing between 160,000-170,000 barrels per day.
A spokeswoman for Nexen said today: “Due to the shutdown of the Forties pipeline Nexen has taken a safe, temporary shutdown of production on our Buzzard and Scott facilities.
“We will continue to liaise with Ineos as they work to resolve the situation.”