Shell estimates 1,300 barrels of oil have spilled into the UK North Sea

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS.A) (NYSE: RDS.B) is trying to get a handle on the oil leaking from its Gannet Alpha platform in the UK North Sea. 

Oil began leaking from the subsea flowline on Wednesday of last week. Shell shut-in the faulty flowline at the Gannet oil field, the company continues to work to stop the oil remaining in the line from spilling into the sea. 

“It is not easy to quantify the total volume spilled, but we estimate so far that it is around 216 tonnes (1,300 barrels),” said Glen Cayley, Technical Director of Shell’s exploration and production activities in Europe. 

Shell estimates the amount of oil currently leaking from the line to be less than 5 barrels a day. 

“This is a significant spill in the context of annual amounts of oil spilled in the North Sea,” said Cayley. “We care about the environment, and we regret that the spill happened. We have taken it very seriously and responded promptly to it.” 

At this time, an estimated six barrels of oil have risen to the surface and are causing an oily sheen spanning about half a kilometer in size. Made up of light crude oil and some hydraulic fluid, the sheen changes from day to day due to weather conditions. 

The oily sheen was much larger yesterday, and Shell expects the oily sheen to naturally dissipate before reaching the UK shoreline due to high winds and waves. 

“The high winds and waves over the weekend have led to a substantial reduction in the size of the oil sheen as can be seen from the current levels on the water,” said Cayley. “We continue to expect that the oil sheen will disperse naturally due to wave action and that it will not reach the shore.” 

All offshore personnel on the Alpha Gannet remain safe, and the offshore production facility remains in operation. The Grampian Prince support vessel is standing by to monitor the area and offer oil spill response measures and deploy dispersant if necessary. 

Shell’s emergency response team is working with the appropriate authorities, including DECC, MCA, Marine Scotland and the Scottish government, to contain the oil spill and minimize its effects on the environment. 

Gannet is located in the Central UK North Sea, about 180 kilometers east of Aberdeen. Shell UK serves as the operator of the field on behalf of Esso Exploration.

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