Mon, Aug 15, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Oil pipeline in North Sea still leaking: Shell

Reuters, LONDON

Royal Dutch Shell said a ruptured North Sea pipeline continued to leak oil on Saturday and that it had been seeping crude into the sea for two days before the company declared it.

Shell said it was continuing to reduce pressure in the pipeline on Saturday, reducing the flow of oil.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond told the BBC about 100 tonnes of oil, around 750 barrels, had leaked into the sea.

This compares with almost 5 million barrels spilt into the Gulf of Mexico by BP’s leaking Macondo well last year.

The Anglo-Dutch oil major first revealed the leak late on Friday, but a spokesman said on Saturday it had been detected two days earlier.

A spokeswoman for the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency said it had no information on the status of the clean-up operation and that none of its staff were at the spill site.

Salmond said the amount of oil released was “pretty limited,” but that the government took all such incidents seriously because of the “huge importance of the magnificent marine environment that surrounds Scotland.”

He said he was pleased with the way the operation was going to contain the leak, but an investigation would follow to establish its cause.

Environmental group Greenpeace complained about the lack of information on the leak.

“Right now we don’t know how serious this is. What we do know is that the North Sea is supposed to be ultra-safe, we’re told spills can’t happen there,” oil campaigner Ben Ayliffe said in an e-mailed statement.

Shell said on Friday that one of the wells at the Gannet oil field, 180km east of Aberdeen, Scotland, had been closed, but declined to say if output was reduced.

According to Argus Media, the Gannet field produced about 13,500 barrels of oil between January and April. The field is co-owned with US major Exxon and operated by Shell.

A document available from Shell’s Web site says the Gannet facilities have capacity to export 88,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

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