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Dow Jones Newswires: UK Offshore Union: N Sea Faces Oil, Gas Spill Threat

8 August 2006 / 20h39   
 
A spokesman for the U.K. Health and Safety Executive, the U.K.’s offshore safety regulator, agreed, noting that “with aging infrastructure there is never room to be complacent. … With weather conditions in the North Sea, there is always potential for catastrophic events.”

Some of the U.K.’s pipelines and offshore platforms date back to 1975, when the U.K. began to pump oil from the North Sea Forties field, roughly two years before the U.S. began pumping oil from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska.   
 
“Much of the infrastructure wasn’t intended to last as long as it has,” Ian Whewell, the head of HSE’s offshore safety division told Dow Jones Newswires.
 

He noted that a lot of the U.K. North Sea infrastructure has been in operation for longer than 25 years and is “getting plain old.” As a result, the HSE is working closely with companies to develop maintenance programs that would ensure adequate investment in the aging pipelines and platforms. 
 

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