ALMOST 100 tonnes of oil were spilled into the sea when BP’s Clair oil platform, 75 kilometres west of Shetland, developed a technical fault on Sunday morning.
The oil giant said on Monday morning that the oil was released “as a result of a technical issue with the system designed to separate the mixed production fluids of water, oil and gas”.
The spill was stopped within an hour, the company said, but oil is now visible on the water surface.
A spokesman said: “At present, we believe the most appropriate response is to allow the oil to disperse naturally at sea, but contingencies for other action are being prepared.
“The most likely volume of oil to sea has been calculated from platform data as around 95 tonnes.
“Both direct observation from surveillance flights and oil spill modelling continue to show the oil moving in a northerly direction away from land.
“The most recent surveillance flight already indicates significant dispersal of the oil at the surface.”
The platform was shut down on Sunday and will remain offline until investigations into the cause of the spill has been concluded.
Oil spill and environmental experts from BP, Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have been working together to assess any potential environmental impacts and to agree the best way to respond.
Discovered in 1977, the first phase of the Clair oil field development came on stream in February 2005. Oil is exported via a pipeline to the Sullom Voe Terminal.
BP is the operator of the massive field and holds a 28 per cent share. Other partners are ConocoPhilips, Chevron and Shell.
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