Shell Working to Contain North Sea Spill

Shell is working to contain an oil spill from one of its pipelines in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland. The crew on an oil platform there first observed a light sheen in the water last Wednesday. Around 1,300 barrels of oil have spilled so far into the sea. The company was able to shut down the main leak but oil is still flowing from a small valve at the rate of about one barrel of oil per day. Curtis Smith is a spokesperson for the company in Alaska.

The company is hoping to drill several exploration wells in the Arctic Ocean this summer. The federal government gave conditional approval earlier this month to Shell’s plan to drill in the Beaufort Sea. But environmental groups have been critical of the plan, saying Shell isn’t ready to clean up a potential oil spill in icy Arctic waters. Rebecca Noblin, with the Center for Biological Diversity says the company isn’t doing an adequate job cleaning up the North Sea spill.

Shell says the impact to wildlife from the spilled oil in the North Sea has been minimal. And the company points out its Arctic Ocean wells are nothing like the production well that is leaking in the North Sea. Smith says the company is confident it can operate safely in Alaska.

Smith says he can’t speculate on when the oil spill in the North Sea will be contained.

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Annie Feidt is the Managing Editor for Alaska's Energy Desk, a collaboration between Alaska Public Media in Anchorage, KTOO Public Media in Juneau and KUCB in Unalaska. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace. Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49th state just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon. afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie

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