Petrochemical company Ineos is preparing to shut down the Grangemouth refinery and petrochemical plant, into which the Forties system feeds, by Friday if the union presses ahead with the 48-hour stoppage from April 27. The Grangemouth refinery processes around 20% of the crude from the Forties system, and the remainder goes into storage for export by tanker. Grangemouth could be shut down for as long as a month if the strike goes ahead. If a refinery shutdown happens, all the crude will have to be exported. But the limit to the amount of oil that can be stored at the export terminal will have to be taken into consideration. The storage tanks at Dalmeny near the export terminal can hold 4 million barrels of oil. The petrochemical plant at Grangemouth also processes the gas separated from Forties crude at the nearby Kinneil processing plant. The gas must be removed from the crude oil before it can be exported.
BP is still communicating with Ineos to determine how the strike will affect Grangemouth operations, and it is still not possible to say exactly what the impact on Forties will be. BP PLC (BP) has a number of short-term options for continuing crude oil production from the 700,000 bpd Forties system if the Grangemouth refinery shuts down this week due to a strike. BP operates Kinneil and the spokesman said it is possible to burn off this gas into the atmosphere if the Grangemouth petrochemical plant is shut down, allowing BP to continue to send crude oil for export by tanker. Flaring gas at Kinneil requires a government permit.
ConocoPhillips (COP) said gas production at its Britannia field will have to stop if the Forties system, into which Britannia feeds crude, is shut down. Britannia produced just under 13 million cubic meters of gas a day in December, the most recent month for which government figures are available.