Ropey conditions: Broken rope costs shareholders millions after Hurricane Energy setback

The Aoka Mizu was trying to fish up a buoy connected to oil flowlines (Source: Getty)

What could turn out to be the world’s most expensive rope broke last week as a ship leased by Hurricane Energy braved rough Atlantic conditions.

Shares fell 5.7 per cent today, wiping over £55m off Hurricane’s market value as the company announced a setback off the Shetland Islands.

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A ship, the Aoka Mizu, was trying to connect to a series of oil-carrying flowlines under the ocean, when a rope which was being used to connect to a buoy “failed” on Saturday, the company said.

It is the company's second setback in two months after another rope snagged in January.

However Hurricane insists it is on track to take the first oil from the 500m barrel Lancaster oil field in the first half of the year.

“There is no change to the schedule,” a spokesperson told City A.M.

Hurricane did not say exactly how the rope had failed, but it is believed to be beyond repair as the Aoka Mizu has returned to port to wait for a new rope.

So-called pull-in ropes are used to pull a massive buoy into the hull of the ship. Oil-carrying flowlines, which are connected to the buoy, are then installed in the ship and oil is later pumped onto a second vessel.

The ship has to wait until conditions in the notoriously rough sea are calmer before attempting the process again.

However, analysts say the setback is just bad luck.

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“The continued issues with the mooring buoy are unfortunate, but not altogether unheard of. Given that this equipment, if not strictly 'standard', isn’t new technology, we believe that it has been a run of bad luck, opposed to anything more sinister,” researchers at SP Angel said.

“Consequently, any weakness on the back of this news is to be taken advantage of by investors who back the longer-term valuation story.”