MPs doubt UK oil spill plans

MPs have questioned if the UK could cope with an oil spill on the scale of last year’s Deepwater disaster in the Gulf. They’ve told parliament they also fear tax […]

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By Sumit Bose

MPs have questioned if the UK could cope with an oil spill on the scale of last year’s Deepwater disaster in the Gulf. They’ve told parliament they also fear tax payers could foot the bill for any clean up but ruled out a moratorium on deep sea drilling.

They singled out the the “harsh conditions” off the west coast of Shetland, where oil wells are being drilled more than 1,000 metres deep, saying they had “serious doubts” about the ability of clean-up equipment to function in such an environment.

“Companies cannot continue producing cut and paste oil spill response plans and rig operators must make it easier for staff to raise concerns without fear of intimidation,” said committee chairman Tim Yeo. They also noted contradictions in Health and Safety Executive reports about bullying and harassment on oil rigs.

Energy Minister Charles Hendry said: “We welcome the Committee’s thorough and comprehensive report that reaches 25 conclusions and recommendations which we now need to consider in detail. We looked at our regime and increased inspections immediately after Macondo and plan a further review once US reports and the detailed analysis of the factors which caused the Gulf of Mexico incident are available.

“As we move towards a less carbon intensive future, oil and gas are set to remain a key part of our energy system for years to come and it is vital that we search for and produce the UK’s own resources as safely as possible.”

The MPs’ report is a response to the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion in April last year that killed 11 and became one of the worst spills in history.