The supertanker jetty at the North Sea's Hound Point crude oil terminal is shut for maintenance and will not reopen until Sept. 15, operator BP Plc said on Thursday, making sending excess cargoes to Asia more difficult for traders.
The Hound Point jetty has two berths, but only Jetty 1 is large enough for the Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC) that traders normally use to send cargoes to Asia.
"Hound Point 1 berth will be closed to carry out maintenance. The berth won't be available for loading from 26th August 2014 until the work is complete, which we estimate as 15th Sept 2014," BP said in a statement.
"Hound Point 2 berth is fully available for normal operations. Only vessels suitable for Hound Point 2 jetty will be accepted during this period."
A glut of crude in the Atlantic Basin has depressed price differentials in the North Sea close to multi-year lows, leading to expectations more cargoes would sail east.
But without the economies of scale of using VLCCs the arbitrage trade is less workable, potentially pressuring Forties and other North Sea crudes that underpin Brent oil futures.
Reporting by David Sheppard