Last night’s Channel 4 News was mostly taken up with a relatively heated debate on the London riots. During the air time left over, science correspondent Tom Clarke gave an overview of Shell’s 100 tonne oil spill in the North Sea. PLATFORM provided some analysis, putting Shell’s oil spill in the context of the daily leaks, discharges and spills in the North Sea.
Shell initially claimed the spill was “under control” yesterday, but late last night Reuters Tom Bergin reported that the ruptured pipeline was continuing to leak oil into the seabed, and that the oil spill had already been ongoing 2 days before the oil giant called the authorities.
The Anglo Dutch oil major first revealed the leak late on Friday but a spokesman said on Saturday it had been detected two days earlier.
A spokeswoman for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said it had no information on the status of the clean up operation, and that none of its staff were at the spill site.
The fact that an oil spill of as yet unknown magnitude went undetected so close to the Scottish coast line should raise alarm bells in Holyrood and amongst UK regulators (the Health and Safety Executive and Department for Energy and Climate Change).
The combination of “light-touch” regulation in an era of budget cuts, and self-reporting of pollution incidents is the perfect recipe for a major Deepwater Horizon-type accident in the UK’s backyard.
You can read more of PLATFORM’s research into the inherent risks of offshore drilling here.