BP will let 95 tonnes of leaked oil "disperse naturally" in the North Sea after a technical fault at one of its platforms on Sunday (2 October). The malfunction happened on a remote rig on the Clair platform 46 miles (75km) off the Shetland coast when there were complications with the system that separates water, oil and gas.
The leak lasted for approximately an hour after the problem was detected and before it was capped.
In that time an estimated about 95 tonnes of oil –roughly 700 barrels – spilled into the sea.
BP said it was working with the industry cooperative Oil Spill Response and the UK government to assess the potential environmental impact before drawing up the best response as the oil moved away from land.
"At present, it is considered that the most appropriate response is to allow the oil to disperse naturally at sea, but contingencies for other action are being prepared," BP said. "The most recent surveillance flight already indicates significant dispersal of the oil at the surface."
The spill is minor compared to the disastrous one at the Deepwater Horizon platform in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. More than three million barrels poured into the sea before the well was capped 87 days after the blowout, which killed 11 people on the Macondo Prospect.
BP was found guilty by a US District Court judge of gross negligence and reckless conduct in September 2014. Almost one year later it settled to pay pay $18.7bn (£14.6bn) in fines, the largest corporate settlement in US history.