London: British officials said on Tuesday they
would double the number of inspections carried out at oil rigs
in the North Sea following the disastrous leak at a
BP-operated installation in the Gulf of Mexico.
Britain`s Department of Energy said the average number of
annual environmental checks aboard the country`s 24-odd
drilling rigs would rise from eight to 16, and said it was
hiring three extra inspectors to help pursue the more
aggressive program. The department did not provide details of
the inspections, but said they involved visits to each rig.
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said that while he believed
the measures governing the nation`s offshore energy industry
were robust, the catastrophic leak and its aftermath had given
the government "pause for thought".
Tens of millions of litres of oil have already been
pumped into the Gulf of Mexico after a deadly blast at the
Deepwater Horizon rig turned its well into an oil geyser,
staining beaches and costing hundreds of millions of dollars.
London-based energy company BP PLC has repeatedly failed
to plug the well over the past month and a half, although a
cap recently installed above the gusher has started siphoning
off at least some of the spill.
BP also operates a large network of platforms, pipelines,
and terminals up and down the North Sea, where oil and gas
exploration began in the 1960s. With new energy exploration
beginning in deep waters off the Scottish archipelago of
Shetland, Huhne said there was "every reason to increase our
Huhne also promised the creation of a new oil industry
group to report on the Britain`s ability to prevent and
respond to a potential spill.