Safety North Sea oil rigs in doubt

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Serious leaks are a regular occurrence at oil and gas platforms in the North Sea.

According to UK newspaper The Guardian, the oil companies fail to report most of the incidents involving their rigs. More than 100 serious leaks occurred in 2009 and 2010, or almost one per week. The main offenders were the Anglo-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell and the French concern Total.

The least safe platform was ‘Brent Charlie' with seven incidents and nearly 5,000 kilos of leaked oil. The platform was built in 1976 and is owned by Shell. In one incident, the platform had to be shut down completely.

The Guardian has received documents containing reports from oil companies addressed to the Health and Safety Executive. The companies submit these reports to the HSE on a voluntary basis.

In a reaction, a Shell spokesperson said the company’s safety regulations and procedures are even stricter than those applied by the HSE.

The Guardian’s revelations come at a particularly inconvenient time for the oil companies, which are currently involved in difficult negotiations about concessions for oil and gas extraction in a number of regions, including Alaska and the Polar Regions.

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