Oil Spill in North Sea
Monday, 15 August 2011
The oil leak from a Royal Dutch Shell pipeline is the worst North Sea oil spill for more than a decade.
The oil slick covers 37 square kilometres so far, with 1300 barrels spilled to date and 5 barrels per day still flowing into the sea. The pipeline was cut of soon after the leak was identified on Wednesday and the ongoing leak is from the residual oil in the now isolated pipeline.
Shell hope that wave action will break up the slick before it reaches the shore, but Shell has made provision to break up the slick with chemicals is needed.
The Scottish government is taking the spill very seriously, and a UK government spokesman has described the leak as substantial for the North Sea.
In the wake of the BP leak in the Gulf of Mexico, oil companies are under pressure to publish their emergency plans for dealing with oil spills and Greenpeace campaigns have forced some oil companies to make their plans public.
Hopefully this spill will cause little damage on the UK and European coasts but oil spills remain a concern, especially in the pristine Arctic environment. A Greenpeace spokesman responded to recent publication of one company's clean up plans, "Our experts will now analyse it and fully expect it to confirm what the UK government said in private documents, that an Arctic spill would be near impossible' to clean up. Nothing we've seen causes us to disagree with that opinion."
UPDATE: A second leak has been identified, raising increased concerns, about the total amount of oil and on going status of the leak.