Shell to Plug Draugen Leak with Robot

A robot vessel will try to plug the oil leak on the Draugen platform in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, Shell said on Tuesday. A Shell official said the leak, which is minor, has perhaps cut output by 10 percent since it was detected on Sunday.

The subsea installations on the Rogn Rogn South area about 2.5 miles from the Draugen platform have been closed, but the main platform continues normal output.

The Draugen field is located approximately 90 miles northwest of the Norwegian port of Kristiansund and oil is not expected to drift ashore.

Shell spokeswoman Kitty Eide said the leak had been located with a camera-equipped remotely operated vessel sent to check the subsea installation at a depth of about 840-870 feet. "We could clearly see oil droplets coming out of a shield over the subsea installation," Eide said. "We have equipment on the way now to remove this cover over the installation and to check the status."

"From what we could observe yesterday, we are not talking about a major leak but rather a minor one," she said.

Eide said that an oil recovery vessel was at the location, but that a search involving two helicopters had so far failed to find any oil on the water. "That gives reason to believe that the oil may have evaporated or been broken down by the waves because the Draugen oil is very light," she said.

Eide said the subsea installation on which the leak was found would stay closed until it is repaired in coming days. The subsea installation lies on the seabed with a flow line back to the platform.