The spill happened earlier this month on a Shell pipeline, more than 100 miles off the coast of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Hugh Shaw, who has been appointed by the government to oversee Shell’s work has backed claims by oil giant shell that the worst of the spill is behind us.

So far Shell has placed 72 concrete mats on pipeline to secure it to the seabed this work has now secured all of the buoyant sections of pipe, but more mats will be laid over the coming days.

Work has also begun to evaluate the various options for getting rid of the remaining mixture of gas, oil and water in the pipe.

This process will take a number of weeks and will require the approval of the government, through Mr Shaw.

Mr Shaw who is serving as the secretary of state’s representative for maritime salvage and intervention, said: “The risk of further oil release has considerably reduced following a successful operation to return raised sections of the pipeline to the seabed with concrete mattresses.

“The latest survey shows a few sections are lying just above the sea floor but operations continue to add additional mats to reduce the risk further.

“A slight sheen was reported in the area yesterday morning and I believe it is inevitable that further sheens will be seen as we move to the dredging and inspection phase of the operation and oil is released from sediment on the sea floor.”

Mr Shaw added he will continue to monitor Shell’s response and if he deems necessary has powers to order the company to do more.

A spokesman for Shell added: “No oil has been released from the flowline, or release valve, since that point. Continuous monitoring is being carried out to ensure that no releases have occurred.”

Luke Walsh

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