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North Sea oil leak 'under control'

A leak at a North Sea oil platform owned by Royal Dutch Shell has been brought under control.

The leak was found in a flow line connecting an oil well to the Gannet Alpha platform, about 112 miles east of Aberdeen.

The size of the sea surface affected is estimated to be some 31km by 4.3 km at its widest point, however the quantity of the oil spilled remains unclear.

Shell said it expects the oil to disperse naturally through "wave action", and therefore not reach the shore.

The company said the well was shut in on Wednesday and the flowline on the seabed has been isolated and depressurised, considerably reducing the leakage.

A spokesman said: "We have deployed a Remote-Operated Vehicle (ROV) to do inspection checks and monitor the subsea leak which is on a flow line on the sea bed. The relevant authorities continue to be kept informed. A stand-by vessel remains on station with oil spill response equipment and dispersant if required. Personnel on the platform are safe and the platform continues to operate."

First Minister Alex Salmond said he is satisfied by assurances the leak had been brought under control, particularly as Marine Scotland officials are embedded into the control room of Shell in Aberdeen.

He said: "Although the amount of oil that has been released is pretty limited, we regard all of these incidents with great seriousness and we discharge our responsibilities because of the huge importance of the magnificent marine environment that surrounds Scotland," he told BBC News 24.

Environmental organisations expressed concerns about the leak, and called for full details to be released.

Greenpeace oil campaigner Ben Ayliffe 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 be all but impossible to clean up. Events in the North Sea should give the company pause for thought."


From Belfast Telegraph