BP shuts down Shetland oil leak

BP has confirmed it has successfully shut down a small leak identified in an undersea pipe near an oil platform off the west coast of Shetland.

A spokesman for the company said the leak had been shut down 45 minutes after a hairline fracture was detected in an eight inch pipeline, near the Foinaven platform, 120 miles west of Shetland.

He added that the company had detected no oil on the sea’s surface and was now working on plans to safely remove the oil from the sealed off pipeline and then fix the leak. He also confirmed that undersea cameras had provided evidence that the crack was no longer leaking.

However, the incident is still likely to be seized on by green groups that are currently campaigning against government plans to open up deep water regions off the west of Scotland to exploration.

The news follows an eventful few days for the oil giant, after a US court late last week blocked an attempt by BP to share the cost of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with US rig operator Transocean.

District judge Carl Barbier upheld a clause in the drilling contract that protected Transocean from bearing responsibility for compensation payouts, although he did acknowledge that the company could still face penalties imposed by the US government.

Transocean claimed victory in the case, which will be followed by further legal action related to the disaster later this year. “This confirms that BP is responsible for all economic damages caused by the oil that leaked from its Macondo well, and completely discredits BP’s ongoing attempts to evade both its contractual and financial obligations,” the company said.

However, BP also attempted to put a positive spin on the ruling, maintaining that Transocean should bear some of the responsibility for the disaster.

“Today’s ruling makes clear that contractors will be held accountable for their actions under the law,” the company said in a statement. “While all official investigations have concluded that Transocean played a causal role in the accident, the contractor has long contended it is fully indemnified by BP for the liabilities resulting from the oil spill. The court rejected this view.

“Under the decision Transocean is, at a minimum, financially responsible for any punitive damages, fines and penalties flowing from its own conduct. As we have said from the beginning, Transocean cannot avoid its responsibility for this accident.”

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