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Shell to be prosecuted over Bacton gas terminal fire

Rowena Mason - The Telegraph

Royal Dutch Shell is facing "serious" charges for alleged environmental and safety problems connected to a fire at its Bacton gas terminal almost three years ago

Pipes are seen at the Bacton Gas Terminal

The price of Brent crude oil jumped to more than $100 per barrel when the fire broke out at a water treatment plant at Bacton gas terminal in February 2008

The Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the energy giant's UK subsidiary on Thursday that the company will be prosecuted jointly by both authorities.

The price of Brent crude oil jumped to more than $100 per barrel when the fire broke out at a water treatment plant at the terminal in February 2008.

The site, which then imported 10pc of Britain's gas supply, is owned by a number of companies and operated by Shell. None of the site's 46 workers was injured during the incident.

The Anglo-Dutch company will now be tried for two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and one breach of the Environmental Protection Act.

It will also be prosecuted for four contraventions of the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations and one breach of the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations. An initial court hearing is set for January 20 at Norwich City Magistrates' Court.

A Shell spokesman confirmed that the company has been notified of the criminal prosecution, but declined to comment further.

Elsewhere in the oil industry, the White House Commission investigating BP's Gulf of Mexico spill said it wants to separate bodies in charge of regulation and safety from industry lobby groups such as the American Petroleum Institute.

The API is currently in charge of publishing guidelines and approving equipment standards.

At the start of a two-day meeting to prepare the commission's final report, Bill Reilly, the chairman, said: "The oil and gas industry needs to embrace a new safety culture. Good management could have prevented this catastrophe."

It comes after President Barack Obama rowed back on plans to open much more of America's shorelines to oil exploration - which was originally approved before the BP spill.