Oil giant BP is in talks with chemicals group Ineos over the sale of the North Sea’s largest pipeline.
BP’s Forties Pipeline System (FPS) transports about 450,000 barrels of oil per day on average — about 40% of UK production. The pipeline is one of the oldest in the sector, having started operating in the Forties field in 1975.
BP and Ineos did not give further details about the discussions, citing commercial confidentiality. In a statement, the oil giant said: «BP can confirm it is in discussions with Ineos regarding a potential sale of the Forties Pipeline System. «We remain committed to communicating openly with staff and our stakeholders as soon as we are able, and as commercial confidentialities allow, if any deal is confirmed or agreed».
Ineos also released a statement, confirming it was in talks with BP. It added: «At the moment the details of these conversations are confidential and we cannot say any more at this stage». The FPS system carries oil from the unmanned offshore Forties Unity platform to an onshore terminal at Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire. From there it transports oil about 130 miles south to facilities adjacent to the Ineos-owned Grangemouth refinery and chemical plant. Oil is processed and stabilised there before it is sent either for export or on to Grangemouth.
The union Unite, which was involved in a bitter industrial dispute with Ineos at the Grangemouth refinery in 2013, said it would seek an urgent meeting with the chemicals firm to discuss the possible sale. Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: «Our members at BP will have major concerns about the possibility of becoming employees of Ineos, a company with a clear history of attacking our members’ pensions, as well as their terms and conditions, in order to maximise profit. If a sale does go ahead, we will fight to protect our members in every way we can, and Ineos should work with us to allay their fears». About 300 BP staff currently operate and support the FPS system.