ANOTHER leak has been found in the flow line beneath the Gannet Alpha oil platform, 113 miles off Aberdeen, in the wake of claims that oil giant Shell has underplayed the incident.
Shell has been dealing with the release of an estimated 216 tonnes - 1,300 barrels - from a leak near the platform discovered last week.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it was a "substantial" spill, but should disperse naturally.
But the oil company have confirmed they are now working to locate a second leak.
Glen Cayley, technical director of Shell's exploration and production activities in Europe, was quoted by BBC News as saying: "We've got a very complex sub-sea infrastructure and the position of the leak is in an awkward place with a lot of marine growth.
"It's taken our diving crews some time to establish exactly and precisely where that leak is coming from."
This afternoon the Scottish Government said they were taking ongoing action to establish the extent of the environmental impact of the oil leak at the Shell Gannet F Subsea installation.
Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"The Scottish Government's primary operational role is to assess and advise on the impact this spill may have on the marine environment, and Marine Scotland has carried out aerial surveillance of the affected area. Further survey flights planned for today will include an ornithologist, appointed by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, as an observer.
"In the coming days Marine Scotland's Fishery Research Vessel Scotia will take fish, seawater and sediment samples to monitor any environmental impact the leak may have caused. There are currently no Scottish fishing vessels operating close to the vicinity of the oil leak, therefore no impact is expected in terms of contaminated fish entering the food chain, but we remain vigilant.
"Our understanding is that output from the North Sea oil leak has been greatly reduced, and that Shell is continuing work to stop the flow completely. It is important that Shell are as open and transparent as possible, and provide regular updates on the developing situation.
"While it is for the UK Government, which has responsibility for regulation of the pipeline system, to take forward an investigation, it is critical that the Scottish Government has a full and formal role in this investigation."
Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, said: "We must ensure that those involved are equipped with all the necessary information in order to take the appropriate course of action.
"Communication and sharing knowledge is key at this stage.
"RSPB Scotland is ready and willing to offer its advice on how best to protect seabirds at risk, but we cannot do this without monitoring by the relevant agencies and sharing the details of what this monitoring has shown.
"We know oil of any amount, if in the wrong place, at the wrong time, can have a devastating impact on marine life."
Industry body Oil and Gas UK said procedures are in place to deal with the leaks.
Meanwhile local authorites international environmental organisation KIMO UK say they are “disappointed” that a significant amount of oil continues to be spilled from Shell’s Gannet Alpha platform into the North Sea, an incident Shell, they say, only reported after a two day delay. “An oil slick covering approximately fifty square miles has been reported 112 miles East of Aberdeen, a slick that presents a threat to marine ecosystems and our coastline.
“KIMO UK believe that Shell should have been more open about the nature of the spill, reporting it as soon as they became aware of incedent, so that the appropriate contingency plans could be put in place by stakeholders who could be affected by the spill.”Earlier Greenpeace also expressed concern about the lack of information coming from Shell.