Taqa Bratani has “begun the process” of restarting oil flows from the core Brent pipeline in the North Sea following a shut down after a leak was discovered at a platform at the weekend.

The Abu Dhabi-based company also hinted that the hydrocarbons release found in one of the concrete legs of the Cormorant Alpha platform on Saturday was oil.

Taqa shut-in production and all pipeline infrastructure following discovery of the leak during maintenance work.

On Thursday it said it “has begun the process of restoring the flow of an estimated 80,000 barrels per day of crude oil in the Brent pipeline system”. It did not, however, confirm that flows have actually resumed.

Taqa said the release was small and was contained within the platform leg and never escaped into the environment. Investigations have shown that there was no connection between the Brent pipeline and the pipeline involved in the release.

The company said there has been “no further oil release” indicating the original leak was most likely oil.

Seventy one non-essential staff were evacuated from the platform on Saturday following discovery of the leak.

A release of oil and associated gas was discovered on the Cormorant Alpha on 14 January and led to non-essential workers being flown off the platform and the shut-in of the Brent pipeline system. The leak persisted for two weeks before being stopped on 28 January.