22 August 2011
Further to the update issued by Shell on 21 August, this is a statement by Mr Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State’s Representative (SOSREP) for Maritime Salvage and Intervention, who was appointed by the UK Government to oversee the operation.
Mr Shaw said:
“Following the successful closure of the valve by Shell UK on Friday, Shell now plan to continue to secure the pipeline to protect it from the threat of storm or tidal damage. Following discussions over the weekend, last night I advised Shell that I am satisfied with their proposals to complete operations to secure with concrete mattresses sections of pipeline that are raised from the sea bed.
“The operation began at first light this morning and weather permitting, this is expected to be completed over the next 36 hours.
“Planning is now underway for the safe and timely removal of the gas and oil remaining in the damaged pipeline.
“Dedicated UK Government aerial surveillance aircraft continue to monitor the GANNET Field and surrounding areas.”
At 08:10 this morning the surveillance aircraft observed a sheen on the water of 200m x 50m and maximum estimated quantity of 0.002 tonnes. The sheen has dispersed naturally. SOSREP is satisfied that this sheen was as a result of dredging operations 3kms from the mattressing operation which have been ongoing, as part of Shell’s inspections, to identify precisely the source of the original leak. Shell have now suspended the dredging operation until all the mattresses are laid. Forty-five mattresses are now in place. Surveillance using both fixed wing aircraft and satellite is ongoing with no further sheens observed.
Notes for editors
Hugh Shaw is the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP). The role of the SOSREP is to represent the Secretaries of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (in relation to offshore installations) and Department for Transport (in relation to ships) by removing or reducing the risk to safety, property and the UK environment arising from accidents involving ships, fixed or floating platforms or sub-sea infrastructure.
The SOSREP monitors the operator’s response to a pollution incident and if he deems necessary, has powers to give directions and to take such other actions as may be required to prevent or minimise pollution or the threat of pollution. The SOSREP is empowered to make crucial and often time-critical decisions, without delay and without recourse to higher authority, where such decisions are in the overriding public interest.