Energy giant Shell this weekend began an operation on its north sea Gannet pipeline — which sustained a leak in August — to release residual gas and make the line safe.
Secretary of state’s representative for maritime salvage and intervention Hugh Shaw gave Shell permission on Friday to move on to this stage of its response to the oil spill, after he was satisfied that work done in August had stopped the leak.
The new work will involve the release of around 4,000m³ of gas that remains in the line, which could take up to seven days to complete. Shell will tap gas at six high points along the 4.1km length of the pipeline in order to “vacate the gas safely to sea and to further stabilise the pipeline on the seabed”.
Oil containment and capture devices have been engineered into the gas venting equipment. Oil that is still trapped in the pipeline will not be removed in this operation, but will be the focus of the next phase of the operation. An investigation into the cause of the incident by the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Health and Safety Executive continues.