Major incident declared after oil leak at Poole Harbour

A major incident has been declared after oil leaked into the water in Poole Harbour from the UK’s largest onshore oil field.

Approximately 200 barrels of reservoir fluid was released into the harbour after the leak occured at Wytch Farm oil field in Dorset on Sunday.

Poole Harbour Commissioners activated its oil spill plan in response. A pipeline has also been shut down, with booms placed on either side of the leak, the organisation told BBC News.

They said in a statement: “It is estimated that approximately 200 barrels of reservoir fluid has been released into the water column in Poole Harbour.

“Anyone who has come into contact with the spill should wash immediately with soap and water. If eyes have come into contact with the spill, they should be rinsed with water.”

Perenco UK, which operates the Wytch Farm oil field where the leak took place, said a clean-up operation was underway.

The firm said there had been a “limited oil leak at one of its well sites”.

Leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council, Philip Broadhead, said the local authority would be “working to see what implications this leak may have and what action we may need to take.”

Paddle boarders enjoy warm weather in Poole Harbour in Dorset (PA)
Paddle boarders enjoy warm weather in Poole Harbour in Dorset (PA)

He added: “It is of course extremely disappointing to hear of this event, and while there will be a time later for anger and investigation, our focus now must be ensuring we can mitigate any impacts of this situation.”

“The Wytch Farm oil field in the Purbecks has been operating since 1979 and is one of the largest onshore oil fields in Europe. We have today been advised by the operators that there has been a leak from the facility. Whilst this has been contained, we are told that oil has escaped into the water and surrounding area,” he said.

Frank Dy, general manager at Perenco UK’s Wytch Farm, where the pipeline is located, told Bournemouth Echo: “Any spill is an extremely serious matter and a full investigation will be launched to ascertain what happened in Poole Harbour.

“It is important to stress that the situation is under control, with the discharge of fluids having been stopped and the spill is being contained.”

The Environment Agency said: “We are supporting the port authority and other partners in responding to this incident.”