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article imageNorth Sea oil spill to disperse ‘naturally,’ says Shell

By Lynn Herrmann     Aug 15, 2011 in Environment
London - The Royal Dutch Shell oil spill which started last week may have leaked hundreds of tons of oil into the North Sea, but a UK government agency has issued a statement saying the oil is not expected to touch shorelines, as it will disperse “naturally.”
Shell, operator of the Gannet Alpha platform in the North Sea, approximately 110 miles east of Aberdeen, issued a statement over the weekend noting the spill is coming from a flow line on the sea bed. The oil giant has deployed a Remote-Operated Vehicle (ROV) for conducting subsea inspections and for monitoring the leak. Shell co-owns the facility with Esso, an Exxon Mobile subsidiary.
The UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) issued a statement on Monday noting the oil spill is “under control and has now been greatly reduced.” It went on to note Shell is still working to halt any further leakage into the ocean, and in attempts to alleviate any fears over environmental impacts, added
Although small in comparison to the Macondo, Gulf of Mexico, incident, in the context of the UK Continental Shelf the spill is substantial – but it is not anticipated that oil will reach the shore and indeed it is expected that it will be dispersed naturally.
Financial Times reports DECC has stated the spill is “substantial,” but neither Shell or DECC have confirmed the size of the spill, other than stating the sea surface area currently impacted is 31 kms by 4.3 kms at its widest point. The oil sheen is moving in a westerly manner.
The spill has generated a variety of responses, mostly centered on Shell’s desires to operate offhsore in the Arctic.
Ben Ayliffe, a Greenpeace oil campaigner, said: “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. Shell is looking to move into the Arctic where an oil spill would all but impossible to clean up. Events in the North Sea should give the company pause for thought,” according to the Financial Times.
On Monday, The Wall Street Journal called on Shell to be more forthcoming in its details on the oil spill, noting
even three days after the company confirmed that the spill had actually occurred, there is still no indication of how much crude has leaked into the ocean.
WSJ added Shell has conducted a “secretive response” to the incident and runs the risk of skepticism and conjecture gaining traction. It also reports Shell’s Gannet Alpha platform suffered 10 leak incidents during 2009 and 2010, raising the question of continued safety and maintenance concerns at the platform.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration issued Shell conditional approval for exploratory drilling operations in the Arctic, set to begin with a year.
More about north sea oil spill, Gannet Alpha, shell oil spill, Offshore, Royal dutch shell
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