Shell acts to fi­nally plug leak

Progress in North Sea

Evening Express (Extra Edition) - - NEWS - By Neil Evans

THE chance of a ma­jor oil spill in the North Sea seemed to have been avoided to­day af­ter Shell con­firmed it had be­gun the first step to­wards fi­nally stop­ping the leak.

Five con­crete “mat­tresses” have al­ready been sent down to be laid on the oil pipe and more are due to be sent to en­sure the pipe­line is se­cure.

It will pave the way for the next stage of the pro­ject at the Gan­net Al­pha Plat­form in the North Sea, that will see the firm try to se­cure the valve that was still leak­ing oil at the rate of one bar­rel a day.

A spokes­woman for Shell said the pipe had been de­pres­surised, so the es­ti­mated 660 tonnes of oil still in the well would not leak out.

Shell said an area of 250sq km was now af­fected.

Glen Cay­ley, Shell’s Aberdeen-based tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor of ex­plo­ration and pro­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties in Europe, said: “We con­tinue to make good progress to stop the resid­ual leak from the flow­line to the Gan­net plat­form.

“Through­out these op­er­a­tions, safety re­mains our first pri­or­ity.”

It is now more than a week since the first leak oc­curred at the Gan­net Al­pha Plat­form 112 miles east of Aberdeen.

Al­though Shell said it had stopped the first, more se­ri­ous, leak, which saw 216 tonnes leak into the wa­ter, a sec­ond leak was spot­ted in the valve of the pipe.

As re­ported in later edi­tions of the Evening Ex­press yes­ter­day, the firm has come un­der pres­sure to make pub­lic its most re­cent pipe­line in­spec­tion re­port.

OP­ER­A­TION: An artist’s im­pres­sion of the con­crete mat­tress be­ing used to try to stop the pipe­line break­ing free.

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