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Oil Cos Agree To Code Easing North Sea Pipeline Access

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Oil Cos Agree To Code Easing North Sea Pipeline Access

“Oil companies in the North Sea, including heavyweights BP PLC (BP) and Royal Dutch/Shell Group (RD, SC) have agreed with the U.K. government to adhere to a new code of conduct aimed at easing access to undersea pipelines.”

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

Posted 16 Sept 04

LONDON — Oil companies in the North Sea, including heavyweights BP PLC (BP) and Royal Dutch/Shell Group (RD, SC) have agreed with the U.K. government to adhere to a new code of conduct aimed at easing access to undersea pipelines.

The U.K. is keen to encourage new and often smaller companies to develop the dwindling oil and natural gas resources of the North Sea. Gaining access to the infrastructure that delivers the hydrocarbons to market is key for these companies, particularly in the development of small fields which the major companies that control the pipelines won’t bother with.

“Many of today’s new fields are too small to support their own cost-intensive production facilities and need to use existing systems to make them commercially viable,” Alan Booth, managing director of EnCana’s (ECA) U.K. operations, said in a press release.

“The new code recognizes the need for greater transparency in infrastructure access and pipeline business dealings,” Booth added.

The main feature of the new code is an agreement that the U.K.’s Secretary of State will be called in to mediate negotiations between pipeline owners and potential users if a conflict lasts more than six months.

In addition, technical data about pipeline operations and commercial terms and conditions will be posted on the Internet.

More than 50 companies, including the biggest North Sea infrastructure owners – BP, Shell , ExxonMobil (XOM), Total (TOT) and ConocoPhillips (COP) – have signed up to the agreement, which will be overseen by the U.K. Offshore Operators Association, known as UKOOA.

Kieron McFadyen, Shell’s technical director for Europe, hailed the agreement as a triumph of industry self regulation.

“(The code) should help to ensure consistency in approach and behavior, and it’s a good example of how cooperation across our industry, and with government, can help us regulate ourselves,” McFadyen said.

UKOOA Web site: http://www.oilandgas.org.uk/

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