Accessibility |

Company fined for crude oil discharge

An oil company has admitted regulatory failings which led to the discharge of crude oil into the North Sea.

BP Exploration Operating Company Limited (BP) pled guilty to a contravention of Regulation 3(1) of the Offshore Petroleum Activities (Oil Pollution Prevention and Control) Regulations 2005 at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

The company was fined £7,000 after the discharge of 95 tonnes of crude oil into the sea 75 miles west of the Shetland Isles on 2 October 2016. This discharge was not permitted under the terms of the BEIS permit granted to BP.  

The circumstances surrounding the discharge were investigated by the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (‘BEIS’).

BP intended to start production from a newly drilled well on the Clair Phase 1 offshore installation. This was not a routine operation and as such there was a specific written procedure prepared by BP which was to be followed in order to carry out this operation. The procedure specified all of the tasks to be undertaken and it was to be followed by all of the personnel involved.

The investigation found that regular water sampling should have been in place, with the results of this being fed back to the control room. The written procedure was not specific on when results should be provided, or when the control room should request late results. As a result of this process failure a significant amount of crude oil was discharged into the North Sea.

Alistair Duncan, Head of the Health and Safety Investigation Unit, Crown Office, said:

"BP accepted liability and the Crown accepted their guilty plea to the contravention of the Regulations.

“The lack of sufficiently robust procedures could have had a significant environmental impact, had these issues not been addressed.

"Thankfully there was no significant impact to the environment as a result of this incident and the company has introduced improved procedures since then.

“Hopefully this prosecution will serve as a reminder that failing to have sufficiently robust procedures and adhere to the regulations can have potentially serious consequences.”