Royal Dutch Shellís ruptured North Sea pipeline has caused a "substantial" spill, with oil still leaking into the sea, the British government and the oil major said on Monday.
The Royal Dutch Shell platform Gannett Alpha is seen in the North Sea. ( Reuters)
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said: "Current estimates are that the spill could be of several hundred tonnes".
A spill on that scale would be the worst in the North Sea since 2000 when more than 500 tonnes was spilt, according to DECC data.
Shell said around 216 tonnes of oil, equivalent to 1,300 barrels, had leaked into the North Sea in a "significant spill".
"Work continues to stop the oil remaining in the flowline from leaking. We estimate the current rate of leakage is less than five barrels a day," the oil major said in a separate statement on Monday.
Oil from Shellís Gannet field has been spilling into the sea since last Wednesday, but the rate has been falling since the company shut off the well the same day.
By comparison, almost 5 million barrels gushed into the Gulf of Mexico from BPís blighted Macondo well last year.
"In the context of the UK Continental Shelf, the spill is substantial," a spokesman for the DECC said, noting assessment of the size of a spill is subject to revision. "They (Shell) are working to completely halt any further leakage."
Shell said the incident was a "significant spill in the context of annual amounts of oil spilled in the North Sea".
"We have taken it very seriously and responded promptly to it," the company said.
The DECC echoed Shellís expectation that the oil sheen will not reach the shore, because it is being dispersed naturally by waves. Shell has equipment on standby to use if required.
Royal Dutch Shell says North Sea oil spill reduced to 2 barrels a day
From: Yahoo.ca / AP
LONDON - Royal Dutch Shell says a leak at one of its North Sea oil rig has been reduced to 2 barrels, or 84 gallons, a day.
Glen Cayley, technical director of Shellís European exploration and production activities, says the company deeply regrets the spill, Britainís worst in a decade.
He says an investigation is under way to determine the cause of the spill, which was first noticed Wednesday.
The company estimated Monday that 54,600 gallons of oil had spilled into the North Sea from the rig off Scotlandís eastern coast, and the leak was continuing at 5 barrels a day.
The Gannet Alpha oil rig, 112 miles (180 kilometres) east of the city of Aberdeen, is operated by Shell and co-owned by Shell and Esso, a subsidiary of the U.S. oil firm Exxon Mobil.
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