x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Abu Dhabi-owned Taqa's North Sea oil production bounces back to record levels after months of shutdown.

A North Sea oil platform owned by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, known as Taqa, is back on stream and helping the company to record production levels, it was reported yesterday.

Leaks in January and March at the Cormorant Alpha led to a drop in production as well as a temporary shutdown of the Brent Pipeline System, which carries about 10 per cent of the United Kingdom’s total oil production.

Since coming back from several months of shutdown at the end of June, Taqa’s production in the UK has hit 70,000 barrels a day – a record, the Emirates news agency Wam reported.

Cormorant Alpha handles 8,000 to 10,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil production from the South Cormorant field and is a conduit for the Brent network, which carries about 90,000 bpd.

In 2012, Taqa produced on average 41,800 bpd in the UK. Total global production was 135,400 bpd last year.

“That Cormorant Alpha is back up and running is a tribute to the expertise and teamwork of our North Sea workforce,” said Peter Jones, who took over as managing director of Taqa’s UK business in July, Wam reported. “The way that the business handled the issues on Cormorant Alpha earned it a great deal of respect across the industry. It was extremely open, honest and professional. Within the industry and beyond, it was recognised that this is the way we need to work.”

Taqa acquired its UK North Sea platforms Cormorant Alpha, North Cormorant, Eider and Tern in 2008, and three years later began a long-term inspection, repair and maintenance programme. The company has since invested more than £300 million (Dh1.76 billion) in maintenance and upgrades across the platforms.

“Cormorant Alpha had been identified as a site for inspection before the incident, and it happened while we were starting the process. It is a critical piece of infrastructure for UK energy supply and this planned programme of work will help extend its original design life,” Mr Jones said.

“If we achieve that, we will have added significant value to Taqa to sustain our operations out past 2025.”

The majority government-owned company reported a net loss of Dh172m for the second quarter, compared with a profit of Dh447m in the corresponding period last year after outages at power plants in Morocco, the United States and India, as well as the lost production at the Cormorant Alpha.

In June it completed its acquisition of BP’s assets in the North Sea, increasing its global oil output by a third.

Taqa bought stakes in three fields in UK waters from BP for US$1bn last November, adding 20,000bpd to its production. It became the legal owner of the former BP assets at the beginning of the year.

Separately, its Taqa North Canadian-headquartered oil and gas company is cutting staff for a second time this year, the Calgary Herald reported.

On Thursday, the company confirmed it would add to the 50 job cuts it announced in January, without giving an exact number, the report said.

“We need until mid-October but it’s going to be similar, I believe,” Taqa North’s president Ed LaFehr told the newspaper. “Let’s let the departments run through their process and give us a number but it’s going to be similar.”

The company started the year with about 1,000 employees and full-time contractors, which means the total cuts will equate to about 10 per cent.

Last year, depressed natural gas in North America stunted earnings, as prices crumbled because of increased supply from shale gas production.

business@thenational.ae