Shell divers close leaking Gannet valve

Shell says it has made progress in its attempts to halt a leak from a flowline to the Gannet Alpha oil platform in the UK North Sea.

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UK – Shell says it has made progress in its attempts to halt a leak from a flowline to the Gannet Alpha oil platform in the UK North Sea.

Divers have closed the relief valve from which oil had been seeping at a rate of less than 1 b/d. Shell will now monitor the flowline to confirm that it remains sealed.

“Our next task is to remove the residual oil from inside the depressurized flowline, and that will take time,” said Glen Cayley, technical director of Shell’s exploration and production activities in Europe.

The company has also set down 24 concrete mats to secure the flowline to the seabed, and more will be added over the next few days.

As back-up, Shell has three vessels on site with dispersants and specialized oil spill response equipment.

So far 218 metric tons (240 tons) of oil have leaked into the North Sea from the flowline since the problem first came to light last week.

The UK’s Marine Coastguard estimates that the resultant sheen currently covers an area of 6.7 sq km (2.6 sq mi), and is 3.62 metric tons (3.9 tons) in volume.

Shell has formed an investigation team to establish the cause of the leak, and has pledged to cooperate with government authorities, including supplying pipeline integrity reports.

08/19/2011

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