The Forties Pipeline System (FPS) is scheduled to have a planned 3-week shutdown in June 2020.
The FPS has been crucial to the development of the Central and Northern North Sea since its inception in 1975. Through expansion and further development of technologies, the pipeline has been and continues to be a key tool in the progression of the North Sea offshore market.
Acquired by INEOS FPS in 2017, the FPS is a major pipeline network. Consisting of 169km of pipe, Forties transports around 550,000 barrels equivalent – roughly 40% of the UK’s oil and gas liquids – onshore, from 80 assets in the North Sea.
Why is the planned shutdown taking place?
Planned shutdown periods are key to ensure the safe and smooth operation of assets.INEOSannounced a £500 million investment in the FPS system to safeguard its reliability until at least 2040, and this shutdown is part of a coordinated plan to make that happen. The works will involve essential maintenance and upgrades to the system.
What impact will the shutdown have on the industry?
While shutdown periods are common in the offshore oil and gas industry, the shutdown of a pipeline that carries nearly half of the UK’s daily oil and gas supply comes with significant consequences and considerations. Clearly, the work needs to be carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The implications of shutting the FPS will be widespread across the North Sea. Many assets will have to halt production, likely resulting in operators taking advantage of the situation to conduct simultaneous maintenance of their own assets, which feed into the pipeline.
Preparing for the Forties Pipeline shutdown
Currently, around 1000 individuals are directly employed (and many more indirectly), in the operation and maintenance of the FPS. A planned shutdown period will result in additional contracts and an increase in personnel required to execute the work in a relatively short period of time.
The impact of a shutdown period will be felt across the entire workforce, with a particular focus and increase in Operations and Maintenance (O&M) roles. Skilled technicians and engineers will be required to conduct maintenance and shutdown work, but O&M roles are not the only positions where there will be additional requirements. Project and onshore teams will also be necessary to support the short but inevitably busy demand of a shutdown of this scale.
It’s time for businesses to get ready
While the planned shutdown is scheduled to take place in June 2020, we are already seeing contracts being awarded for work and roles coming to market as a result. Presently, contracts are being identified, tendered and awarded. These are both technical and engineering scopes of work, as well as a focus on operator’s resources and manpower.
It is rare that an opportunity for planned maintenance of so many assets at one time presents itself, and there is likely to be pressure on the industry to meet the demand. Early preparation – and resourcing - will be key.
How can Primat help?
With experience working within the oil and gas, manufacturing and processing industries, Primat has unique cross-sector experience, amassing an unrivalled database of skilled shutdown and maintenance personnel. We have successfully worked with a number of operators and service providers, and our 30-year history of working in the North Sea means that we have a strong understanding of their requirements.
Our scalable business model allows us to adapt to the specific challenges that our customers face, providing manpower for both planned and unplanned shutdown situations, quickly and efficiently. From shutdown and turnaround engineers, to project managers and team administrators, Primat has an excellent HSE track record and quality performance feedback of potential candidates.