Talisman Sinopec Energy UK has closed its Buchan Alpha platform in the North Sea, the company said on Wednesday, ahead of an expected severe winter storm. The Buchan Alpha is a floating production installation that contributes less than 5,000 barrels of oil per day to the Forties crude stream. A spokeswoman for the company, a joint venture between Canada’s Talisman and China’s Sinopec, said 61 non-essential personnel had been taken from the installation to Aberdeen, Scotland, in advance of the storm.
“This was completed on December 8. A team of 15 remain on board and production remains shut down for the time being,” she said. Britain’s Met Office has issued an amber “be prepared” warning for Scotland, with “exceptionally large waves” forecast for some areas of the North Sea, of up to 12 metres. The Buchan Alpha is not permitted to operate when waves are expected to be above 6.75 metres for a prolonged period. “It’s part of its safety case,” said a spokesman for the UK’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
“It’s not unusual, it happens about three to four times a year.” Britain’s regulatory regime requires all offshore operators to submit a “safety case” to the HSE, outlining how major accident risks will be managed. Talisman Sinopec’s safety case for Buchan Alpha requires it to temporarily remove staff if weather forecasts suggest there will be helideck movement outside the limits defined by the Civil Aviation Authority for helicopter operations.