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Shell Slammed for North Sea Oil Spill

Oil PlatformRoyal Dutch Shell has had an oil spill in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland, which the government is calling the most substantial in over ten years. It’s believed by officials that 1,300 barrels have spilled into the water from a pipeline connected between a production platform and the Gannet field. This has created an unwanted polish on the surface of the sea that covers a 37 kilometre squared area.

However, Shell thinks there are less than five barrels flowing into the water per day now, following the well being cut off soon after the detection of the leak last Wednesday. It’s thought that the oil left in the isolated pipeline is all that’s still leaking. The company also believes that there is only half a kilometre of sheen on the water’s surface, because waves appear to have scattered a majority of the oil. It isn’t anticipated that the oil will make it to shore, but the firm has put chemicals on stand-by just in case a slick needs to be broken up.

The leak has been compared to the oil spill that BP experienced in the Gulf of Mexico in April of last year, during which 5 million barrels of oil flowed into the sea at a rate of over 50,000 barrels a day. Shell has sought to downplay the criticism, but a spokesman for the government has called the current spill significant in the context of the North Sea, and they are taking the incident very seriously. Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead says government officials will continue monitoring the pipe that’s leaking, which is about 180 kilometres east of Aberdeen. The government has a responsibility for the pipeline system, and as is the standard practice, will conduct an investigation and press the Scottish government to be involved.

Since the BP spill, oil companies have been under pressure to make their plans for dealing with these kinds of incidents public. Environmentalists have won a big victory in the last couple of days against Cairn Energy and its drilling in Greenland. This followed the release of its plans for dealing with an oil spill in Arctic waters.

Campaigners have disrupted the company’s operations in Greenland, trying to get the documents to be made public. Greenland minister Jorn Skov Nielson says tougher legal restrictions on how close protesters can get to rigs operated by Cairn Energy have been put into effect, making it safe for the plans to be published. However, Greenpeace isn’t impressed, saying their experts will analyse the documents and expect it to say that an Arctic spill will be near impossible to clean. Nothing has given them cause to disagree with this opinion, which the UK government has also said in private documents, the organisation added.



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