Can the UK cope with an oil spill of the magnitude of Deepwater Horizon?

By Dean 27 September 2010

There have been industry wide calls for a ban on deepwater drilling after the recent Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But only on Friday the members of OPSPAR – countries with shorelines around the eastern Atlantic, including Britain, rejected the proposals put to them regarding a ban.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change are currently considering three deep wells off Shetland, two run by Chevron and one by BP. So the question that should be asked is - “How ready is the UK, to cope with a spill of the magnitude of the recent spill in the Gulf of Mexico?”

Reviews are currently taking place industry wide into how to improve the chance of avoiding a similar catastrophe and critics still say that the industry was and is still underprepared. They say that deep water drilling should not take place until the failings that happened are more understood and practices are put in place industry wide to eliminate potential problems.

Greenpeace protestors recently climbed onto the anchor chain of the drill ship Stena Carron, off Shetland, in protest and lawyers of the firm are looking to get a Judicial Review into the handling of deep wells off the UK’s shores.

A Greenpeace spokesperson stated:

"It's irrational to rush ahead with deep water wells. Our worry is that there could be another catastrophic blowout and it could be incredibly difficult, nigh on impossible, to stop it.

"Whatever the governments say about the plans being robust, history has shown us time and time again that there always will be things like human error. And when you do that in ultra-deep waters like off the west of Shetland, the problems are magnified."

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