Work starts to restore oil flow
Work to restore the flow of oil through a major UK pipeline system in the North Sea has begun.
The oil company TAQA announced that it has started the process which will see production levels of crude oil reach 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) through the Brent pipeline after it was shut down on Monday.
The pipeline system was stopped and 92 men airlifted from the Cormorant Alpha platform 94 miles from Shetland after a release of hydrocarbons was detected in one leg of the platform.
A statement from the Abu Dhabi based company explains the rig pipeline with the leak is separate to the Brent system.
"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," the company said.
Hydrocarbon levels inside the platform leg have been monitored since the discovery on Monday and measurements show the volume released is small, the oil firm said. None have been released into the environment, it said.
An investigation into the source of the hydrocarbons is continuing. "Work is under way to mitigate the release of hydrocarbons, and preparations are being made to stop it and effect repairs," the company said.
Sir Robert Smith, Liberal Democrat MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, previously said: "This is another reminder of the importance of maintaining our mature assets in the North Sea, especially the key hubs and pipelines that are so crucial to UK production.
"If the UK is to retain its high safety and environmental protection standards and if it is to maximise production in the North Sea, it is vital that it continues to attract investment in its ageing infrastructure."
Oil transported through the Brent pipeline is said to represent between 5% and 6% of the UK's North Sea oil and gas production. Of the 90,000 barrels (bpd) normally handled a day by the Cormorant Alpha, 42,600 are produced by Abu Dhabi energy company TAQA, which took over the platform in 2009.