Elgin gas platform video

Concerns remain over the risks posed by the gas leak at French oil company Total’s Elgin well in the North Sea.

The company has yet not decided on the best option to tackle the leak, but is looking into pumping heavy mud into the well to suppress the flow of gas.

Total health, safety and environment manager David Hainsworth told the Good Morning Scotland programme that his company was taking action, but risks were still apparent.

"The gas is flammable but the platform power was turned off to minimise risk of ignition, but clearly there is a risk," he said.

"We have taken away a series of risks but there is always a possibility, it’s low but you never say never."

In a statment on its website, the oil firm confirmed that the flare was still alight on the Elgin platform
"The flare is still lit because when the platform is shut down and de-pressurised in an emergency, it cannot be fully purged as done in a controlled shutdown," the statement said. "This is perfectly normal. Some liquids do remain in the system and these liquids are now evaporating."

Platform

"You can be assured that this is being reviewed on a constant basis and should this change any impact is being assessed. In parallel we are investigating solutions to extinguish the flare if it does not burn out by itself."

Total was forced to shut down its Elgin platform, one of two platforms that make up the Elgin-Franklin platform array in the UK North Sea, due to the natural gas leak.

The firm immediately launched emergency procedures when the incident occurred on Sunday, but is finding it difficult to shut the well due to the unusually high pressure of the undersea reservoirs.

Drifting gas has forced Shell to move 120 non-essential staff from the Shearwater platform and Hans Deul drilling rig, about four miles from the Elgin, as well as evacuating all 238 workers on the Elgin platform.

The leak was located at a disused well approximately 4,000m beneath the seabed.


Image: A Natural Gas Leak has forced Total to shut down its Elgin-Franklin platform in the UK’s North Sea. Credit: Total