AROUND 216 tonnes of oil, equivalent to 1,300 barrels, have leaked from a ruptured pipeline at Royal Dutch Shell’s North Sea platform, causing a “significant spill”, the company admitted yesterday.
Although the spill is small in comparison to BP’s Macondo Well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico last year, the spill is still “substantial”, according to the department of energy and climate change (DECC).
A spill on that scale would be the worst in the North Sea since 2000 when more than 500 tonnes was spilt, according to DECC data.
“The UK Continental Shelf oil spill record is strong, which is why it is disappointing that this spill has happened,” the department said in a statement. “We take any spill very seriously and we will be investigating the causes of the spill and learning any lessons from the response to it.”
Shell, which detected the leak last Wednesday, estimated that the current rate of leaking to be less than five barrels a day. The volume of oil at the sea surface has been estimated at around one tonne, or around six barrels.
“We continue to expect that the oil sheen will disperse due to wave action and that it will not reach the shore,” said Glen Cayley, technical director of Shell’s exploration and production activities in Europe.
The company maintains that the leak from the Alpha Gannet platform, located about 112 miles east of Aberdeen, “remains under control” and that the well continues to be shut in, without specifying whether the output was reduced.
According to the DECC, the entire Gannet field pumped 14,653 barrels per day (bpd) in April, the most recent month available. Gannet A produced 5,509 bpd, not enough to have a sizeable effect on the market.
Oil traders have said that its supply impact appeared to be minor so far.
Shell’s London-listed A shares closed up 0.4 per cent at 2,015.5p.