Maersk Probes Oil Slick Sightings in North Sea

Danish and German reconnaissance aircrafts have registered oil on the sea surface near the Dan, Halfdan and Kraka fields in the North Sea.

Maersk Oil is investigating the matter at the production facilities, at sea and from the air, but has not immediately been able to identify any irregularities in the operations, which could explain the observations.

"We are working closely together with the relevant authorities, but we have not been able to identify anything unusual in our discharges, which have an oil content clearly below the limits set by the Danish Environmental Agency," said Franz Willum Sørensen.

As a precautionary measure, Maersk Oil has activated its oil spill contingency plan, including a 1,200 meter floating boom barrier which will be transported about 200 kilometers from Esbjerg to the Dan field in the North Sea. The environmental safeguards are expected to be on location tomorrow.

"Our data does not indicate an oil spill, but we would rather activate our environmental protection measures one time too many," said Franz Willum Sørensen.

In calm weather conditions like those present today, a very thin oil film, originating from the cleaned production water being discharged in accordance to the Danish Environment Agency's rules, can appear on the sea surface.

Per one liter cleaned and discharged production water, a maximum of 30 milligram of oil is allowed. Tests and analysis conducted by Maersk Oil do not show that this limit has been exceeded. According to Maersk Oil's tests and analysis, the cleaned and discharged production water contains between 5 to 16 milligram oil.

"We are currently examining our entire production process to find a possible explanation. A thin oil film does not necessarily mean increased levels of oil in the discharged water," said Franz Willum Sørensen.