Mixed report on offshore sector's performance

The amount of oil released into the sea by the UK's offshore oil and gas industry dropped to its lowest figure in 1997 since the early years of North Sea oil following an effective ban on discharges of oil-based drilling muds. Offsetting that positive trend was a sharp increase in the tonnage and number of oil spills, while some new synthetic drill fluids have been found to be no more biodegradable than oil-based muds and are to be phased out.

Details of the sector's environmental performance were set out in May in the Department of Trade and Industry's annual "Brown Book" on the UK's offshore oil and gas resources.1Announcing the publication, Energy Minister John Battle said that he wanted the UK "to be at the forefront of setting oil industry environmental standards." The Government has just rectified its predecessor's lengthy failure to apply the 1985 EC Directive on e

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