TAQA today issued an update regarding the situation at the Cormorant Alpha platform in the UK North Sea:

After two hydrocarbon releases within a leg of the Cormorant Alpha platform in January and March, TAQA has accelerated a long-term inspection, repair and maintenance programme that has been under way since 2011.

Production on the platform was initially expected to continue throughout the programme, but after the releases, which involved no leak of hydrocarbons to the external environment, TAQA has decided to continue the shut-in of Cormorant Alpha’s production while the programme progresses. Thanks to this inspection programme being in progress prior to the releases, TAQA was able to respond immediately, addressing the issues quickly and effectively.

There is still substantial work to be performed in the platform legs. This will take months to complete. TAQA will provide an update on the outlook for resuming production at Cormorant Alpha when this work has progressed further.

Leo Koot, Managing Director of TAQA’s UK oil and gas business, said: “We are committed to investing in our infrastructure to ensure that production continues and export hub facilities are maintained. Cormorant Alpha is a critical piece of infrastructure for the continued viability of the Northern North Sea and this planned programme of work will help extend its original design life and support the long term security of UK energy supply. There is potentially one billion barrels of oil behind Cormorant Alpha and, although our production may be affected over the next few months, this work is critical to ensure the long term future of the northern North Sea.”

As well as handling 10,000 barrels per day of production from the South Cormorant field, the Cormorant Alpha platform is the conduit for the Brent System Pipeline, which carries approximately 90,000 bpd of oil, or approximately 10 % of the UK’s oil production. The Brent System Pipeline is unconnected to the pipework involved in the inspection, repair and maintenance programme and continues to operate normally. However, although no closure of the Brent System Pipeline is planned as part of this inspection, repair and maintenance programme, it has been and could in future be subject to temporary closure on a precautionary basis should this be required during this programme of work.

As part of TAQA’s ‘make it safe, make it work, make it grow’ strategy, the company has invested more than £300 million on maintenance and upgrades across four northern North Sea platforms since their acquisition in 2008. This investment has improved the quality of the infrastructure, helping to double production and secure hundreds of jobs in Aberdeen.