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Oil swirls in the water
Shell said the amount of leaked oil was "insignificant"Image: AP

North Sea spill

August 15, 2011

Royal Dutch Shell has said a leaking pipeline from a North Sea oil field is now 'under control.' The firm discovered the seeping crude last Wednesday and dispatched a remote-controlled robot to the scene.


Oil giant Shell said over the weekend that the leak at the Gannet Alpha oil platform site,180 kilometers (112 miles) off the Scottish city of Aberdeen, was under control and that the amount of oil that leaked into the North Sea was "relatively insignificant."

A clean-up vessel and spotter plane were sent to the affected area and reported that an oil slick roughly 30 kilometers long and four kilometers wide was seen floating on the surface.

A spokesperson for Shell said it was unlikely the oil slick would reach shore and instead would be broken up by "natural wave action."

Shell has provided little information about the incident so far, but said that no more than 200 tons, or 1,500 barrels, of oil had been spilled to date.

This compares to about 5 million barrels that spilled from BP's leaking Macondo oil field last year in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gannet field currently produces about 13,500 barrels of oil per day, according to a report by British broadcaster BBC.

Investigation underway

Oil drilling platform in the North Sea
The North Sea has more than 700 oil and gas drilling platformsImage: picture alliance/dpa

A spokesman for Britain's Department of Energy and Climate Change said the matter was being investigated.

"We are responding to the incident and will investigate in accordance with our investigations policy," the spokesman said. "We understand from Shell that there is a finite amount of oil that can be released."

Patrick Harvie, Scotland's Green Party co-leader, called on Shell to act "urgently and efficiently," considering what happened last year in the Gulf of Mexico.

"[Shell] must also keep the public and the authorities properly informed about progress, something BP failed to do during the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year," said Harvie.

Author: Gregg Benzow, Richard Connor (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Editor: Martin Kuebler

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