Shell's Scottish spill under control

18th August 2011

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  • Energy ,
  • Water ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Generation



The oil leaking from a Shell platform off the coast of Scotland has been greatly but has not stopped completely DECC has confirmed.

In a statement published by the department, the secretary of state’s representative for maritime salvage and intervention, Hugh Shaw, revealed he was happy that Shell had a handle on the leak, which has pumped more than 210 tonnes of crude oil into the North Sea over the last week.

“Based on the latest intelligence, my view is that the oil leak is under control,” he said. “The priority now and over the coming days is to completely halt any further leakage in what is a complex environment.”

The leak from the Gannet Alpha oil platform, located 113 miles east of Aberdeen, was first reported last Thursday (10 August) and is the largest in the area for a decade.

Shell has confirmed that after halting the original source of the flow in pipes to the platform, it is now tackling a second, much smaller leak, thought to be from a nearby relief valve.

Glen Cayley, technical director of Shell’s exploration and production activities in Europe, based in Aberdeen confirmed the rate of flow from the leak is now down to less than one barrel a day.

“I must stress again how much we regret this incident, that the situation is under control and we are working towards a swift solution. However I cannot stress enough the need to undertake detailed risk assessments and ensure any work considered is undertaken safely,” he said.

While DECC has labelled the spill as significant, the department says the oil is not expected to reach the shore and that it will be dispersed naturally.

An independent unit with representatives from DECC, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Marine Scotland has been created and is working with Shell to monitor and tackle the spill.

“It will be for DECC and the HSE inspectors to thoroughly investigate the causes of this incident, and once the full report is completed, it will be sent the Scottish Procurator Fiscal who will consider it and make a decision on further action,” Shaw said.

The sector’s trade body, Oil & Gas UK, has confirmed it will work with Shell to ensure the country’s operators learn from the spill.

"All spills of any nature are regrettable and therefore, as soon as the cause of the leak at the Gannet field is known, Oil & Gas UK will look to work with the operator to ensure lessons that can be learned are communicated throughout the industry in order to help prevent such an incident from occurring again," said Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive Malcolm Webb.


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