NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Offshore inspections to increase in wake of Mexico leak

Video grab shows leaking BP wellhead
Image caption The damaged pipe has led to a major fall in BP's share price

Inspections of North Sea drilling rigs are to be increased in the wake of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said the government wanted to ensure the safety and environmental protection regime was as strong as possible.

The number of annual environmental inspections on drilling rigs will be doubled.

Mr Huhne said the start of exploration in deeper waters off Shetland typified the need for extra vigilance.

Malcolm Webb, chief executive of industry body Oil and Gas UK, said: "The industry actively seeks sound and appropriate regulation, delivered by strong and professional regulators."

A new advisory board, including oil companies and unions, met for the first time in Aberdeen last week to discuss issues raised by the situation in the Gulf of Mexico.

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

BP has seen a sharp fall in its share price as a result.

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