by a Newsnet reporter
The Scottish government has expressed its concern regarding the north sea oil spill after Shell revealed that 200 tonnes of oil had seeped into the sea from one of its platforms.
The leak, that began last Wednesday, was originally estimated to have deposited only half that amount into the surrounding waters.
A Scottish government spokesperson said they were monitoring the situation amid concerns about pollution but that the amount of discharge remained relatively low.
Commenting on the leak from Shell’s Gannet F Subsea Flowline, the SNP’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
“We take any oil leak extremely seriously, as the First Minister has made clear, and we are continuing to monitor this situation very closely. Marine Scotland officials are participating in the Operational Control Unit – alongside Shell, UK Government departments and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee – and are reporting back to Ministers on a regular basis.
“As is standard practice in incidents such as this, the UK Government, which has responsibility for the pipeline system, will be taking forward an investigation and I will be pressing for the Scottish Government to have a full and formal role, given our responsibilities for the marine environment.”
Mr Lochhead explained that the Scottish government’s primary role was to advise on the impact any spill might have on the marine environment. The Minister confirmed that Marine Scotland aircraft are currently involved in surveillance work over the affected area and fishing vessels were being kept up to date.
Shell has said that rate of leak has slowed significantly and that only one half kilometre square of the original sheen is still visible on the surface and that the rest of the oil is being dispersed.
The company has been criticised for a lack of information over the amounts of oil resulting from the leak with RSPB Scotland accusing Shell of being “secretive”. RSPB Scotland spokesman Iain Francis said: “It’s possible that this amount of oil in the wrong place could be extremely damaging but it could also be that we’ve got away with it.”
Mr Francis added: “Our knowledge is lamentable to be honest at this current state of time out in the middle of the sea.”