THE PRESS AND JOURNAL: PAGE 6. MONDAY, February 20, 2012
BY ROSS DAVIDSON
Operator Shell was supposed to assess the integrity of pipelines at Gannet Alpha every four years, but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the audit had not been carried out since 2004.
HSE has issued SheIl with two improvement notices after the firm did not keep the report up-to-date.
More than 200 tonnes of light crude spewed into the North Sea in August last year from a leak in a pipeline serving the Gannet Alpha, 112 miles east of Aberdeen.
Shell was accused of playing down the incident after it estimated 120 barrels had been spilled – but later revised it to l,300 barrels.
The operator is still awaiting the outcome of an investigation into the spill and could face prosecution over the incident
Earlier this month, the oil giant had to deal with further problems at the platform after it was evacuated when gas started seeping out underwater.
About 50 people were taken off the platform, leaving 28 essential staff on-board.
Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, described Shell’s approach to health and safety as “shocking”.
He said: “Despite being responsible for Britain’s worst oil spill in a decade, Shell is once again giving people reason to worry about the safety of its operations.
“It prompts one to ask just how many other oil companies are not on the ball when it comes to health and safety?
“Shell’s failure to keep safety plans up-to-date is really quite shocking for a company with such a global profile,”
A spokesman for Shell UK said the improvement notices did not mean the external investigation, being conducted by HSE and the Department of Energy and Climate Change, had concluded.
He said: “Shell is confident that it can promptly meet the requirements laid down in these improvement notices.
“Shell continues to work closely with the regulatory authorities in their ongoing investigation into the Gannet incident.
“We aim to learn from past mistakes and make whatever changes are necessary to ensure they are not repeated.”
Mr Campbell insisted it is only a matter of time before there is another major tragedy in the North Sea. He said: According to public domain data there were 85 gas releases and 443 dangerous occurrences last year. If you are getting 85 gas leaks thats one and a half, or two, leaks a week. The probability of an undesirable event is very high.
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