Shell battling oil leak in North Sea

2011-08-13 09:09

London - Shell was battling an oil leak in a North Sea pipeline off the British coast on Saturday, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant company said.

The leak was discovered on Wednesday after an oil sheen was spotted on the surface near the Gannet Alpha production platform, 180km east of Aberdeen, on the Scottish east coast.

A clean-up vessel and spotter plane have been sent to the scene. Shell said it was not immediately clear how much oil had spilled into the sea.

"We can confirm we are managing an oil leak in a flow line that serves the Shell-operated Gannet Alpha platform," a Shell spokesperson said.

"We deployed a remote-operated vehicle to check for a subsea leak after a light sheen was noticed in the area.

"We have stemmed the leak significantly and we are taking further measures to isolate it. The subsea well has been shut in, and the flow line is being de-pressurised."

UK authorities informed

Shell said their focus was on environmental safety and they had informed the relevant British authorities.

A spokesperson for Britain's Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "We are responding to the incident and will investigate in accordance with our investigations policy.

"We understand from Shell that there is a finite amount of oil that can be released."

The field is co-owned by Esso, a subsidiary of US oil firm Exxon, but is operated by Shell.

A spokesperson for the devolved Scottish government said Marine Scotland, the body which manages Scotland's waters, was in close contact with key organisations involved, including Shell.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and update ministers," she said.

North Sea oil production is a major industry in Scotland, centred on Aberdeen.

As Britain battles to rein in its record deficit and revive growth, it is a key sector being relied upon by the Treasury.

North Sea oil companies taxed more

In March, Britain raised the rate of tax on companies operating in the North Sea to enable lower petrol prices for motorists hit by soaring oil costs.

The charge levied on oil and gas production went up from 20% to 32%.

Finance minister George Osborne said the move would raise an additional £2bn for the state coffers.

Scotland's Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie said it was imperative that Shell act "urgently and efficiently" in light of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

"They must also keep the public and the authorities properly informed about progress, something BP failed to do during the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year," he said.

"Whatever the outcome of this incident, it certainly underlines the need for the oil industry to publish proper response plans.

"If they refuse to do so, ministers should act to make it a condition of their licences."

  • FartaWorks - 2011-08-13 10:02

    Phew, this should divert the attention somewhat from the riots in good ol’ Mother England, now wouldn’t it?

  • Macho Mike - 2011-08-13 10:12

    Oh dear, we "Shell" just have to see what happens with this leak i guess.

  • Jay - 2011-08-13 11:06

    I'm sure in their Environmental Impact Assessment they claimed that this operation would be completely environmentally friendly, that the chances of something going wrong is near-impossible and that they'll have everything under control...

  • Newsferret - 2011-08-13 11:10

    And they want to come fracking in the Karoo!! Oh my.

  • Kaapie - 2011-08-13 11:19

    Mmm and then they want to mess in our Karoo as well..

  • Zion - 2011-08-13 12:17

    On a more general note: No matter how expertly and efficiently a safety program or system is run it is always prone to mishaps in some way or other. No matter how diligently a process of Zero Tolerance is applied any system relating to safety and environmental control can break down. As an example: The South African mining industry has one of the most competent safety systems in place and unmatched throughout the world yet we still experience mining fatalities. However, the industry is continually mouthing slogans like "Zero Tolerance is the order of the day". "If we cannot mine safely we will not mine at all" All good and well but the average employee is hardly literate enough to actually see the depth in the system and it is them who suffer the fatalities. The other day I was reprimanded because I did not wear a hard hat in a hostel bedroom where I was working. I noticed the clerk was not wearing a hard hat in his office either. exaggerations due to ignorance and over zealous officials only causes confusion and hence introduces a fault line in the system. There is no way Shell, BP or any other oil company will get away with a 100% safety record.

      Komasa - 2011-08-13 16:50

      @Zion what absolute drivel, your justifications are so weak, instead of hanging out in hostel bedrooms take a look at the Shell oil spill in Nigeria, noticed that did not make the news, which will cost over $1bn to clean up.

  • barry.mcbride - 2011-08-13 12:46

    Ok, so Shell waits to see a sheen on the water before doing something. What enters the pipeline, multiplied by a factor for friction & minor losses, must come out.

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