Page last updated at 16:09 GMT, Tuesday, 11 May 2010 17:09 UK

North Sea assurances made after Gulf of Mexico spill

Seabird soaked in oil near the site of the rig
Wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico has been suffering after the spill

An oil industry body has said it is highly unlikely a major oil spill such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico could happen in the North Sea.

A growing slick from the BP-leased rig is threatening an environmental disaster along US coasts, with wildlife already suffering.

Oil and Gas UK said the North Sea industry was tightly regulated.

However Jake Molloy of the RMT union said safety checks did not prevent the Gulf of Mexico incident.

Oil and Gas UK health and safety director Robert Paterson told BBC Scotland of the risk of a repeat: "I think the checks make the likelihood very low."

Caught fire

The RMT's Mr Molloy warned of the Gulf of Mexico incident: "This was an equipment failure issue."

About 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) of oil a day are flowing into the sea.

Scientists and fishermen have expressed concern that the chemicals could kill marine life.

The Deepwater Horizon rig caught fire and sank following an explosion last month.

A broken pipe is almost a mile (1.6km) down on the ocean floor with little visibility for engineers using remotely controlled vehicles.

Although the Deepwater Horizon was operated by Transocean, BP is responsible for the clean-up.

The slick has so far covered about 2,000 sq miles (5,200 sq km).

I wish to make sure all possible efforts are made by the industry to avoid a similar accident and consequent oil spill

Gunther Oettinger
European energy commissioner

Meanwhile oil companies operating in the North Sea and other waters around Europe have been told to update the European Commission on offshore safety.

The meeting, called by energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger, was a response to the oil spill.

Fourteen of the major oil operators attended the meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, including BP.

Also there were ConocoPhilips, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, Statoil, Maersk and Total.

EU legislation covers environmental protection and health and safety of workers, though oil platforms are regulated by oil national governments.

Mr Oettinger said: "I wish to make sure that the necessary legislation is in place and effectively implemented and that, at the same time, all possible efforts are made by the industry to avoid a similar accident and consequent oil spill."

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