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BP oil spill off Shetland being 'rapidly dispersed naturally'

Aerial photographs of the spill were taken by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency at noon on Sunday

An oil spill from a BP platform off Shetland is being "rapidly dispersed naturally", the energy giant has said.

An estimated 95 tonnes of oil was released into the water from the Clair platform on Sunday.

BP said the leak was "continuing to move in a northerly direction away from land".

The company said: "Surveillance data suggests the total volume of oil remaining on the sea surface to be less than one cubic metre."

BP said this indicated "significant evaporation and dispersion already".

The company added: "Initial conclusions from our environmental assessment work, which looks at local seabird, cetacean and fish populations, indicates that the impact of the release is likely to be minimal."

The Clair platform is 75km (46 miles) west of Shetland. It was shut down after the leak.

Earlier, MSPs were told it is "lucky" that more serious damage had not been done to the environment.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said initial surveillance showed the oil was moving in a north-easterly direction and the most appropriate response was to allow the oil to disperse naturally.

The environment secretary also said there had been one single incident, rather than a continuous leak.

She described the leak as being "at the absolute minimum in terms of what may have happened".

Ms Cunningham said: "I think we have been extremely lucky."

She stated: "My major concern is obviously the marine environment and I have been assured this particular incident has minimal risk for the marine environment."

She also stressed the importance of the oil and gas sector to Scotland's economy, saying: "It is important that we do maximise recovery from the North Sea but, of course, we have to do that in a responsible and efficient manner."

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "The environment secretary is right when she says we have been extremely lucky.

"However, given the oil platform's close proximity to a Marine Protected Area, this leak should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.

"When it comes to the oil and gas industry, we're only ever one spill away from a major pollution incident or even worse. Until there has been a full investigation into how this spill occurred BP should not be allowed to resume operations on the platform."

Article Source: BBC News

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