Shell criticised over response to oil spill
An initial leak was brought “under control” last week but work was continuing on a smaller leak from the same source in an area surrounded by marine growth.
About 216 tonnes of oil – 1,300 barrels – were estimated to have spilled from the Gannet Alpha platform, 112 miles east of Aberdeen, by Monday.
The amount is far greater than the annual totals for the North Sea over the past decade, according to figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
The total amount of oil discharged into the North Sea in 2009 was 50.93 tonnes.
Environmental groups have heavily criticised the operator for the way it has handled the leak, which was first detected on Wednesday.
Shell said the current rate of leakage is less than five barrels a day.
A Shell spokeswoman said: “The leak source remains the same. The initial release path was stopped on Thursday, however the oil found a second pathway to the sea.
Dr Richard Dixon, director of wildlife organisation WWF Scotland, said: “It is clear that Shell are having great difficulty dealing with their leaking pipeline. It really does make you question the entire oil industry’s ability to respond had this accident been on a larger scale or in the much more difficult waters of the Arctic.”