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Gannet leak under control

24 August 2011

Shell divers have recently closed the relief valve from which oil had been seeping, and no oil has been released since that point. Continuous monitoring is being carried out to ensure the closure of the valve has been fully successful.

“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.

However, in terms of the volume on the surface, which changes from day to day, it is estimated to be about one tonne [approximately six barrels].

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

The spill is a light crude oil with a low wax content (API-36). There is also some hydraulic fluid in present.

Cayley stated: “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. We continue to expect that the oil sheen will disperse naturally due to wave action and that it will not reach the shore.”

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency surveillance flight last weekend found no oil on the surface.

So far, 36 concrete mats have been successfully laid on the flowline in a process to secure it to the seabed. This process will continue over the next few days.

A standby vessel, Grampian Prince, remains on station monitoring the area, with oil spill response equipment and dispersing agents available if required.

Shell’s emergency response team remains in place and is working with the authorities (DECC, MCA, Marine Scotland, Scottish Government) to manage the incident and minimise its environmental impact. Shell is also in contact with RSPB and other environmental agencies.

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