Scotland business

Report finds rise in offshore oil and gas leaks

Gas flare Image copyright Thinkstock

There was a rise in the number of oil and gas leaks on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) last year, according to an industry report.

Oil and Gas UK's annual health and safety report found hydrocarbon releases rose by 9% to 87 in 2015.

However, the majority were classified as minor, with three reported as major - the same number as the previous year.

Oil and Gas UK said the rise was due in part to greater use of technology that could detect "the smallest of escapes".

It also attributed the increase to new reporting criteria which meant releases that were not deemed reportable under earlier legislation were now included.

Its annual report suggested that offshore safety continued to improve across oil and gas operations on the UKCS.

There were no reported fatalities in 2015, while reportable injury rates were also found to be lower than sectors such as retail, manufacturing and construction.

Dangerous occurrences - which include oil and gas releases and fires or explosions - were down overall.


Number of hydrocarbon releases occurring offshore in 2015:

Image caption Source: Health and Safety Executive

The lost time injury frequency rate on the UKCS was below the European average and lower than Norway, Denmark and Ireland, according to the report.

Oil and Gas UK also said the industry had "worked hard" to reverse a growing backlog of safety-critical maintenance on offshore installations, as detailed in last year's health and safety report.

Mick Borwell, health, safety and environment policy director at Oil and Gas UK, said: "Safety-critical maintenance has been - and will remain - a focus for industry.

"Reductions are now reported on backlog and we will be publishing guidance for industry on optimising maintenance shortly.

"Hydrocarbon releases are also a perpetual focus for industry. We need to understand more about the slight rise in mainly minor releases to help redouble our efforts on driving these right down.

"This is a testing time for the industry and our commitment to safety has, at times, been questioned.

"However, our report demonstrates that safe operations continue to be intrinsic to how we go about our activities on the UK Continental Shelf, regardless of the oil price."

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