(Adds comments from safety authority)
OSLO, Jan 10 (Reuters) - A small amount of oil spilled on Thursday at Royal Dutch Shell’s (RDSa.L) Draugen field in the Norwegian Sea, after a pipe broke when loading oil onto a tanker, but production was unaffected, the group’s Norway unit said.
Norske Shell said the spill was about three cubic metres of oil, but the Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) said it could be between three and 10 cubic metres. That is equal to about 19 to 63 barrels of oil.
“The oil spill itself is very small,” PSA spokeswoman Inger Anda told Reuters. “But we have decided to investigate this because it is the second incident where a pipe breaks when loading oil in a very short time,” she said.
In December, 25,000 barrels leaked from a loading unit at Norwegian energy group StatoilHydro’s STL.OL Statfjord field, in Norway’s second worse oil spill since production began in the Norwegian part of the North Sea in the early 1970s.
The spill occurred when loading oil from Draugen to the Navion Scandia tanker, the PSA said.
The shuttle tanker belongs to Vancouver-based Teekay Corp (TK.N) — the same company whose Navion Britannia vessel was loading oil at Statfjord when that spill occurred on Dec. 12.
Norske Shell’s spokesman Alf Kristian Lillebo said production at Draugen was continuing normally, and helicopters and boats were in the area assessing the situation.
“Observations show that the oil slick is so small that we have to see if we can even catch some of this oil,” he said, adding that the oil was is so light that 20-30 percent of it would evaporate within the first hour.
Lillebo said pressure in the pipe grew too high but it was not clear what caused it and the company would now investigate the accident and replace the damaged pipe on Friday or Saturday. (Reporting by Aasa Christine Stoltz, editing by Anthony Barker)