UK oil spill triggers major incident response

Perenco on Sunday suffered an oil leak at its Wytch Farm field operations in Dorset in the UK, with crude spilling into Poole Harbour, sparking a major incident to be declared.

Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC) said it has activated its emergency oil spill plan and specialist oil spill response companies are assisting with the operation.

Operator Perenco UK confirmed there has been a “limited” oil leak at one of its Wytch Farm well sites. The company’s incident management team was activated immediately, the leak was halted and booms have been deployed as an additional containment to protect Poole Harbour.

The leak of reservoir fluid – approximately 85% water and 15% oil – occurred from a pipeline operated by Perenco UK at Owers Bay in the harbour, PHC chief executive Jim Stewart said in a statement.

“Any spill is an extremely serious matter, and a full investigation will be launched to ascertain what happened in Poole Harbour,” said Perenco UK’s Wytch Farm general manager Franck Dy.

“It is important to stress that the situation is under control, with the discharge of fluids having been stopped and the spill is being contained.”

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A further assessment will be performed early on Monday morning local time regarding a clean-up operation, added the PHC.

“As a precaution, the public should avoid using the water for recreational purposes and avoid using beaches within Poole Harbour until further intelligence is available,” said Stewart.

Wytch Farm, the largest onshore oilfield in western Europe, is exploited via extended reach wells drilled from the UK mainland, which is intended to cause less impact to the environment. Perenco has operated the field, originally developed and held by BP, since 2011. Wytch Farm accounts for about 14,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of production net to Perenco’s 95% interest out of its total approximate 40,000 boepd output.

The current Wytch Farm operator added it is working closely with the relevant authorities following the leak and a clean-up operation is under way.

“Perenco UK, as part of the London based Perenco group, adheres to the highest operating standards and supports economic growth and social development wherever it works,” stated the parent company.