Oil spot

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Your article " 'Cover-up' over North Sea oil rig pollution" (20 October) implied that the regulation of the offshore industry by the Department of Trade and Industry is ineffective. In fact, the offshore industry is extremely tightly regulated to limits established by the Paris Commission which apply to all coastal states bordering the North Sea.

The industry is one of Britain's most successful post-war. It provides 80 per cent of the primary fuels we produce and employs, directly and indirectly, around 330,000 people.

Oil spills and discharges are monitored by the DTI. In 1995, the amount discharged into the sea was one-third of the level in 1988. There are three sources of oil discharge: accidental spills, produced water and drill cuttings. Very little oil produced is accidentally spilled. In 1995 the total was 0.0001 per cent of the 125 million tonnes produced. The amount of oil discharged with produced water and drill cuttings is tightly regulated.

Harold W D Hughes

UK Offshore Operators Association, London SW1