Royal Dutch Shell has defended its safety record following a leak of more than 200 tons of oil into the North Sea. Environmental groups are calling for its North Sea operations to be restricted.
Shell said in a statement, “safety is Shell’s foremost priority at all times. As part of that commitment, in 2004 Shell initiated a $1.2 billion project to upgrade our assets in the North Sea. This has been completed.”
Earlier this week, the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change, which monitors Shell’s North Sea oil and natural gas extractions, confirmed that the leaking valve had been shut and that the situation is being monitored by the U.K. government’s aerial surveillance.
Environmental groups, however, are not pleased and say that Shell must be monitored independently of the government.
“The U.K. government needs to restrict Shell’s operations in the North Sea until a proper independent audit has been carried out on their installations. We also need to be reassured about the state of other companies’ ageing equipment,” said Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, a statement.
Dixon argues that the oil drilling should not be taking place in “difficult and sensitive water,” but if there is such drilling, “Shell’s track record clearly shows that they are not fit to be part of that exploration.”
The oil leak was first detected on Aug. 10. Last Friday, Shell divers closed the relief valve from which oil had been seeping. According to Shell, no oil has been leaked since that point.
The Gannet oil field was first discovered in 1973. It lies in the North Sea 111 miles east of Aberdeen. It consists of six separate oil and gas reservoirs under about 312 feet of water and between 5,700 feet and 7,200 feet into the Earth.
The field is currently exploited by Shell and is jointly owned by Shell and Esso. The six reservoirs are connected to a centrally placed production platform that processes all the oil and gas from the reservoirs. The leak occurred at a location connected to the platform by 6.8 miles of pipes.