NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

North Sea safety meeting held after Mexico oil spill

Video grab shows leaking BP wellhead
Image caption The damaged pipe has lead to a collapse in BP's shares

North Sea oil industry leaders have met to review their own procedures in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The major oil leak began when a drilling rig operated on behalf of BP exploded.

Industry body Oil and Gas UK announced an advisory group including trade unions and government agencies.

The new Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) met in Aberdeen, and will do so again next month.

The group's chair, Mark McAllister, said measures companies take under the current regulatory regime in the UK continental shelf (UKCS) had been effective in preventing blowouts over the last 20 years of operations.

But he explained: "What is happening in the Gulf of Mexico dictates that we must re-assess the provisions and procedures we employ here and the extent of our preparedness for oil spill prevention and response.

"The advisory group were keen to start this comprehensive review at the earliest opportunity so that, if appropriate, the industry in the UK is poised to respond quickly to the recommendations or learnings that may arise from the investigations in the US.

"This is the most efficient way to help ensure that the arrangements in the UKCS continue to be fit for purpose."

Tightly regulated

The group will focus on areas including first response and insurance, and recommendations from the US investigations.

About 5,000 barrels of oil have been pouring into the sea off the Gulf of Mexico every day.

Oil and Gas UK said earlier it was highly unlikely a major oil spill such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico could happen in the North Sea.

It said the North Sea industry was tightly regulated.

BP has seen a sharp fall in its share price in the weeks since the explosion and leak.

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