Energy giant Shell fined £22,500 over biggest oil leak in decade
The equivalent of more than 1300 barrels of oil spilled into the sea from the Gannet Alpha in 2011.
Energy giant Shell has been fined £22,500 over the largest North Sea oil leak in more than a decade.
The equivalent of more than 1300 barrels of oil spilled into the sea from a ruptured pipe below the Gannet Alpha in August 2011.
The UK Government carried out an investigation into the incident and Shell faced charges over the spill at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on Tuesday.
Shell was able to bring the leak 112 miles east of Aberdeen under control, but then faced a smaller leak which was spilling around 80 gallons of oil a day.
It cost Shell 45m to clean up the leak and another 100m to repair the damage to its infrastructure. The maximum the court could have fined the firm was 30,000.
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks described the fine as a "a drop in the ocean".
He added: "The paltry size of the fine handed down will do little to deter future poor behaviour by it or the rest of the oil and gas industry.
"Despite being responsible for worst North Sea spill in a decade, the level of the fine is literally a drop in the ocean when compared to the billions earned by Shell annually.
"When it comes to protecting the marine environment and its own employees it's absolutely right that oil companies are prosecuted for their mistakes and that lessons are also learned by the wider industry.
"It is therefore disappointing that the fine was not much larger in this case."
Shell reported that there was no evidence wildlife had been affected by the subsea leak.
Shell director Paul Goodfellow added: "We deeply regret the Gannet spill and accept the fine which has been handed down to us. We know that no spill is acceptable.
"Safety is at the heart of our operations and following this incident, a comprehensive review of our North Sea pipeline system was conducted.
"We have learnt lessons from this review and have applied them across our UK operations."
Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie MSP branded the charges as "nothing short of a joke" and called for tougher government action on environmental crime.
He said: "While I'm glad to see Shell plead guilty to this environmental disaster, the trivial level of fines given to this multi-billion dollar company is nothing short of a joke.
"Last year, Shell turned a profit of $14.9bn, so these minuscule fines will do nothing to make the company change its ways. Multinational fossil fuel giants like Shell have substantial funds put aside to cover the cost of their dirty laundry - pouring thousands of barrels of oil into our waters is just another day in the office for them.
"It's is the job of the justice system to protect the people and the environment from criminals like Shell, but at the moment, the law seems to be on the side of the perpetrator. This judgement should act as a stark wake-up call to our governments, and lead to tougher regulation on environmental crime."