North Sea Oil Leak Finally Contained

Written by Zak Weinberg

Royal Dutch Shell announced on Friday that a platform flow-line was leaking hundreds of barrels of oil into the North Sea. According to a press release issued Friday on the company webpage, the flow-line on the seabed is “now isolated and depressurized.” Although the company said leakage had been “considerably” reduced, there was no indication that the spill had stopped or was significantly contained. As of the publication of this article, Shell has since claimed to have stopped the leak. Efforts are now focused on cleaning up the already present oil sheen.

The incident is now being called the “worst oil spill of the decade” in UK waters.

The Gannet Oil leak was about 112 miles off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland. Alex Salmond, leader of Scottish regional government, reiterated a Reuters report that about 750 barrels have leaked so far. On Sunday Shell reported contradictory numbers, announcing the spill has leaked between 12 and 120 barrels and was “under control.”

Company officials report the size of the spill to be 20 miles long and 2.5 miles wide.

“We continue to expect the oil sheen will be naturally dispersed through wave action and will not reach shore,” Shell said.

The Gannet field is operated by Shell U.K. Limited, which runs the field on behalf of Esso Exploration, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil.


“Gannet Oil Leak – Shell Worldwide.” The Shell Global Homepage – Global. Web. 14 Aug. 2011. <http://www.shell.com/home/content/media/news_and_media_releases/2011/gannet_oilleak.html>.

Powell, Barbara. “Shell Says North Sea Oil Platform Spills Up to 120 Barrels – Bloomberg.” Bloomberg – Business & Financial News, Breaking News Headlines. Web. 14 Aug. 2011. <http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-14/shell-says-north-sea-oil-platform-spills-up-to-120-barrels.html>.

“Shell Tries to Contain North Sea Oil Leak.” New York Times. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/world/europe/14oilleak.html?hpw=&pagewanted=print>.

About the author

Zak Weinberg

Zak is a third year environmental studies major, and writing minor, at University of California Santa Barbara. In his free time he enjoys reading, writing, and staying active. Zak also founded a college website in Santa Barbara called Ole Today.