Britain’s third richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe is facing claims that he is looking to raise costs for a rival to use the main North Sea oil pipeline.
American oil firm Apache has said that Ineos, which Ratcliffe owns, wants to double the price of using the Forties pipeline which it bought from BP in 2017 for $250m (£191m), from next year.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that the firm, which has called on the High Court to intervene, also faces Ineos refusing to commit to transporting all the oil Apache wants to transfer through the pipeline from 2021.
In court documents, Apache has said that Ineos must continue to use the existing terms for its use of the pipeline.
It said: “The fact that Ineos wished to negotiate a higher tariff for services does not make its withholding of consent reasonable, nor entitle it unilaterally to vary or qualify its obligation to provide the services.”
According to the American company, Ineos is bound by terms struck with BP to allow it to use the pipeline at a rate of 60p per barrel.
Between 2012 and 2021 a special tariff of £1.20 per barrel had been agreed, but Apache insists that Ineos must return to the base rate next year.
The company is seeking a ruling from the High Court saying that Ineos is in breach of the existing agreements.
The pipeline transports about 30 per cent of North Sea oil to the UK. By purchasing the asset, Ineos cemented its grip on the basin, which it had only entered in 2015 with the purchase of gas field assets from Letterone.
After purchasing other assets such as Dong Energy’s oil and gas portfolio in 2017, chemicals firm Ineos has become one of the top ten producers in the North Sea.
City A.M. has contacted Apache and Ineos for comment.