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Friday, August 19, 2011

Shell Stops North Sea Pipe Leak

- Shell Stops North Sea Pipe Leak

Friday, August 19, 2011
Dow Jones Newswires
by Alexis Flynn

Shell has stopped a leak from an underwater pipe at its Gannet Alpha platform that had been spilling crude oil into the North Sea for more than a week, the Anglo-Dutch major said Friday.

"Today, Shell divers closed the relief valve from which oil had been seeping at a rate of less than one barrel a day," said Shell. "Now there will be a phase of monitoring the flowline [the pipe] to check that it remains sealed," it added.

Shell has been battling a leak at the 18-year-old installation since last Wednesday. It estimates some 218 tons of crude oil have already spilled into the sea since then, though this isn't expected to reach land. Shell and U.K. environmental authorities say they expect the oil to be naturally dispersed through wave action.

"Closing the valve is a key step," said Glen Cayley, technical director of Shell's exploration and production activities in Europe. "It was a careful and complex operation conducted by skilled divers, with support from our technical teams onshore. But we will be watching the line closely over the next 24 hours and beyond."

However, some 660 tons of residual oil remain in the depressurized pipe, which has been secured on the seabed with concrete mats. The next phase of the operation will be to remove this remaining oil from the pipe.

Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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