The leak into the North Sea from one of Shell’s off sea platforms began nearly two weeks ago off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Shell managed to stop the leak last Friday (19 August) after divers closed a relief valve on the faulty pipe.

The Scottish Government is now looking at the environmental impact of the oil spill to determine the extent of the damage.

Its investigation also aims to find out whether the correct procedures were followed by Shell, and if it should pay for the cost of the clean-up operation.

Scottish environment secretary, Richard Lochhead, said while the UK Government has responsibility for the regulation of the pipeline system, it is ‘critical’ that the Scottish Government plays a ‘full and formal role in this investigation’.

He said: “The Scottish Government’s primary operational role is to assess and advise on the impact this spill may have on the marine environment, and Marine Scotland has carried out aerial surveillance of the affected area.”

Shell has been criticised over its lack of transparency over the incident.

Greenpeace’s senior oil campaigner, Vicky Wyatt said: “We’re keeping a “careful eye on whether the leak really is plugged as Shell claims, it’s obvious that the more we learn about what is supposed to be a gold standard operation, the more you worry whether Shell can be trusted to drill in the remote and fragile Arctic.”

Lochhead added: “Our understanding is that output from the North Sea oil leak has been greatly reduced, and that Shell is continuing work to stop the flow completely. It is important that Shell is as open and transparent as possible, and provide regular updates on the developing situation.”

Marine Scotland officials are participating in the Operations Control Unit, which includes representatives from Shell, UK Government department, Marine Scotland and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

Under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, the responsibilities for responding to marine pollution are set out in the National Contingency Plan.

Reporting on its website Shell said: “Continuous monitoring is being carried out to ensure the closure of the valve has been fully successful. That monitoring will continue.”

Following government intervention, Shell has now laid 36 concrete mats onto the pipe in an attempt to secure it to the seabed.

Carys Matthews

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie