Watchdog to tighten oil checks

The number of significant oil spills off the shores of the UK rose sharply in 2009/10, according to figures released today by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The industrial regulator said there were 85 large unplanned leaks over the past year, up from 61 the year before. The majority occurred in the North Sea. The HSE plans to clamp down on oil and gas rig operators with a programme of more “intrusive investigations” as a result, vowing to throw more resources into checking companies’ exploration and extraction equipment. The news indicates heightened awareness of the dangers of offshore exploration following BP’s disastrous three-month leak at its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico