§ Mr. Grimond
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what information he has about the causes of the pipeline Sullom Voe coming adrift; and what steps are being taken to avoid similar accidents in the future.
§ Mr. John Smith
On Saturday 13th September a section of the pipeline being laid from Firths Voe was found floating on the surface some 5 kilometres out from shore. Preliminary investigation showed that a major proportion of the concrete coating which gave the empty pipe negative buoyancy had come away from this section. The pipelines inspector of my Department is in close touch with the owners of the pipeline who are undertaking a detailed investigation into the causes of the incident and the remedial work necessary. When the result of the investigation is to hand, it will be studied closely to see what lessons can be learned to avoid similar occurrences. The pipelines inspector is satisfied with the steps taken in the meantime by the owners to ensure the stability of the pipeline and he will require tests to be carried out to check the integrity of the pipe before it is brought into use. If necessary, powers under Sections 20 to 26 of the Pipe-lines Act 1962 can be exercised to426W ensure that any further remedial works necessary are undertaken.
In future the Petroleum and Submarine Pipe-lines Act 1975 will enable my right hon. Friend to provide by regulations for control over the safety of such pipelines and pipe-laying operations, and for full investigations by the Department when such incidents as this occur.