Shell Fighting Oil Spill At North Sea Platform

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August 12, 2011

Gannet Alpha Platform oil spill

Image by Oilrigphotos

LONDON (Dow Jones)–Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA, RDSA.LN, RDSB, RDSB.LN) said Friday an oil spill has occurred at its Gannet Alpha platform in the U.K. North Sea, although it wasn’t immediately able to detail the amount of crude that has leaked into the ocean.

“We can confirm we are managing an oil leak in a flow line that serves the Shell-operated Gannet Alpha platform,” said Shell spokesman Kim Blomley.

“We have stemmed the leak significantly and we are taking further measures to isolate it,” he said. “The subsea well has been shut in, and the flow line is being depressurized. We continue to monitor the situation on the surface and subsea.”

“We deployed a Remote-Operated Vehicle to check for a subsea leak after a light sheen was noticed in the area,” added Blomley.

Blomley said Shell has informed the relevant U.K. authorities.

“It doesn’t appear to be a big oil spill,” said Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman Jonathan Farr.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “We are aware of the incident, our counter-pollution and salvage officer is monitoring the situation.” The Health and Safety Executive said it was making enquiries into the incident.

The platform is located 180 kilometers east of Aberdeen, Scotland. Shell operates the platform along with partner Exxon Mobil Corp.’s (XOM) U.K. unit Esso. Oil from the Gannet system is taken to Teesside, U.K., through the Fulmar pipeline as part of Ekofisk blend.

The platform had 10 leak incidents in 2009 and 2010, according to an HSE document showing voluntarily declared spills. Only one of the incidents was described as “significant” while the others were logged as “minor.”

Production at the facility is estimated to be around 6,000 barrels a day, according to a trader.

The incident is the second to affect Ekofisk in weeks. Last month, a fire broke out on BP PLC’s (BP, BP.LN) Valhall platform in the Norwegian North Sea, with production unlikely to resume before the end of August.

-By Alexis Flynn and Konstantin Rozhnov, Dow Jones Newswires

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