BP sells crucial oil pipeline in North Sea to Ineos

British major to offload major link in the Forties area of North Sea that carries oil used to set Dated Brent prices, the benchmark for more than half the world's crude.

BP has agreed to sell a vital pipeline that transports oil from the Forties region of the North Sea.  Kjetil Alsvik / EPA
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BP has agreed to sell the Forties pipeline, one of the most important pieces of oil infrastructure in the UK North Sea, to Ineos for US$250 million.

Ineos will make a cash payment of $125m on completion and transfer a share of future earnings up to $125m over seven years, BP said yesterday. The London-based oil producer will retain rights to use the pipeline system’s capacity.

The two companies confirmed last month they were in discussions for the pipeline, which transports crude used to set the price of Dated Brent, the benchmark for more than half the world’s oil. BP is selling assets to help pay for the 2010 oil spill in the US Gulf of Mexico, for which it set aside more than $50 billion. It also needs to bring down debt and maintain dividends as oil continues to trade at half its level of 2014.

“While the Forties pipeline had great significance in BP’s history, our business here is now centred around our major offshore interests west of Shetland and in the central North Sea,” said the BP chief executive Bob Dudley. “The pipeline has long been an important feedstock supplier to Ineos at Grangemouth.”

The pipeline system was originally built to transport oil from the Forties field, which was discovered in 1970, to the Grangemouth refinery near Edinburgh. In the following decades additional discoveries were connected to the system, including Buzzard, currently the United Kingdom’s largest field. BP sold the Forties field to Apache in 2003 and the refinery to Ineos in 2005, while retaining control of the pipelines.

The petrochemical producer Ineos has been expanding in oil and gas exploration, buying a portfolio of 15 UK licences from Engie this year.

* Bloomberg


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