More N.Sea crude benchmark hit as BP shuts platform

Mon Apr 2, 2012 12:46pm EDT
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By Ikuko Kurahone

LONDON (Reuters) - British oil major BP (BP.L: Quote) said on Monday it had shut the Valhall platform in the North Sea last week, while traders said the shutdown led to loading delays of one of the four crude oil streams used for the global price benchmark.

The delays came while French major Total (TOTF.PA: Quote) has closed the Elgin platform since last week because of a gas leak, which has affected volumes in another stream of the four.

A BP spokesman said the Valhall platform in the Norwegian North Sea was shut for unplanned maintenance at the compressor. There was no leak from the platform, he added.

"Valhall production was shut in last week to undertake some maintenance work to the compressor unit. The results of testing this week will determine when a re-start is likely," the spokesman said in a statement.

New-York listed Hess (HES.N: Quote) is the majority owner in the field with a 64 percent share, while operator BP holds the remaining 36 percent.

The BP spokesman said the Valhall field normally produces about 40,000 barrels of crude oil per day but declined to specify the shut-in volume.

The Valhall oilfield feeds into the Ekofisk stream. It is one of the BFOE streams, or Brent, Forties, Oseberg and Ekofisk, which are used as the benchmark to price about two thirds of global crude oil.

Traders said seven cargoes of Ekofisk crude to be loaded in April have been delayed by five days due to the platform shutdown. Two of them were now expected to be loaded in May.<O/LOAD>   Continued...