U.K. Says Hundreds Of Tons Of Oil Have Leaked In North Sea

Aug 15, 2011

The oil leak at the Gannet Alpha platform off the Scottish coast has spilled "several hundred tons of oil" into the North Sea said the U.K.'s Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Royal Dutch Shell, which owns the platform, said it estimates 1,300 barrels have been spilled and said it was "significant." The AP adds:

[Glen Cayley, technical director of Shell's European exploration and production activities,] says the flowline to the Gannet Alpha platform is now leaking around five barrels a day. The leak began last week. Cayley says he expects waves to disperse the oil sheen and he does not expect it to reach the shore. The platform is still operating.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the amount of oil spilled is not comparable to the BP spill in the Gulf. Also the Gannet Alpha is a shallow rig "in water only 310 feet deep," which means stopping the leak should be much easier. But enviornmentalists are saying that even a minor spill can have serious consequences and this rig in particular is no stranger to incidents:

Data from the Health and Safety Executive show that 10 leak incidents happened at Gannet Alpha in 2009 and 2010. While only one of them was logged as serious–in that case, owing to a gas leak that could have ignited–it does raise the specter of ongoing safety and maintenance issues at the facility.

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