Investigation into leak at Shell's North Sea platform to get under way

Shell says according to its estimates a leak at one of its platforms, 110 miles east of Aberdeen, Scotland had spewed 1,300 barrels of oil. The leak was detected on 10 August.

Following the spill, UK government inspectors are preparing to question a number of key players involved in the North Sea oil leak. This would include staff on the platform, officials at the company's headquarters and the helicopter pilot who spotted the sheen.

Meanwhile, even as the investigation gets under way, an analysis of oil and chemical leaks from Shell's Gannet platforms showed that the platform had seen at least 34 spillages since 2002, ranging from 1litre to 590 barrels.

It has also emerged over the weekend that an internal investigation into Shell's Gannet plaforms in 2003 had raised concerns over unapproved repairs and unreliable fire sensors. This is clear from papers held by Bill Campbell, a former senior Shell employee, who has questioned the company's environmental and safety record.

Government investigators are now preparing to launch a more detailed investigation into Shell's physical assets, including the underwater pipeline where the source of the leak was discovered.

As they prepare to launch an investigation into the spill, officials would this week meet Scotland's procurator fiscal (a public prosecutor in Scotland) who would finally decide whether to prosecute, to identify the initial scope of the inquiry.