UK: Forties pipeline sale talks spark call for urgent gov’t inquiry

Forties Unity unmanned platform which serves as the reception point for oil from other North Sea fields transported through the FPS. Image source: Penlea Consultants

Following news that BP was in talks with the petrochemical company Ineos over the sale of the Forties oil pipeline in the UK sector of the North Sea, UK’s trade union Unite has responded with demands for urgent government inquiry. 

BP confirmed on Friday it was in talks with Ineos for the sale of the 100%-owned Forties Pipeline System (FPS).

The FPS is made up of about 100 miles of pipeline which transports about 450,000 barrels of oil per day on average that makes about 40% of UK production. Oil and gas liquids from over 50 offshore fields and St Fergus flow through pipelines into FPS.

BP’s interest in the Forties field was sold to Apache in 2003 and the Grangemouth refinery and chemical plants to Ineos in 2005.

According to BP, approximately 300 BP staff are currently associated with operating and supporting BP’s FPS business.

Len McCluskey, the leader of the UK’s biggest union, Unite, called for an urgent government inquiry into the ownership of critical industrial resources.

McCluskey said: “This sale concerns us all. With the possible purchase of the Forties field by Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos, the extraction and processing of a precious commodity could soon be controlled by one individual. The most important route for oil out of the North Sea and onto UK shores is now about to pass into the hands of one man.

“No matter who that individual is, the potential for power to be exercised without social responsibility is clearly there. That is not something any responsible government should find acceptable.”

McCluskey urged the government to look into the potential sale of the Forties pipeline: “Unite is calling upon the governments at both Westminster and Holyrood to state that they will look into the ramifications of this sale. We need an immediate, full inquiry to ensure that the correct checks and balances are securely in place.

“Furthermore, the case for the state to have a stake in vital resources like the supply of oil and gas has never been stronger. The principle must be that these commodities being sustained in the public interest, not for private profit.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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