Greenpeace Ship Arrives on Scene of Elgin Rig Gas Leak

Published Apr 2, 2012 3:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

A Greenpeace ship has sailed up to the exclusion zone surrounding the North Sea Elgin platform to examine any danger or damage caused by the week-long gas leak.

French-based Total has maintained that the leak does not pose a significant environmental threat. However, Greenpeace still wanted to measure any environmental impact related to the incident for themselves. The activist organization has sent out research vessel, Koenigin Juliana, from Germany. Their actions are based on their beliefs that oil companies often try to hide information concerning accidents.

Now just outside a 2-nautical-mile exclusion zone surrounding the platform, the ship’s crew has taken air and water samples. Greenpeace representatives did report seeing oil on the water, but Total reported that it was a gas condensate sheen and said it posed no threat to any marine wildlife. Reports from aboard the ship also describe a faint smell of gas in the air, and a definite multi-colored sheen.

Total presumes that the sheen will evaporate on its own, but have prepared a Hercules military transport plane to spray dispersant over the area’s waters around the rig if necessary. It is also waiting on British authorities’ advisement on whether it is safe to approach the rig.

The energy giant was in the process of assembling a crew to go on to the platform in the next couple of days, including outside experts from Texas-based firm Wild Well Control as well as Total staff. The company is preparing to drill two relief wells to stop the gas leak, in parallel with an operation to pump so-called heavy mud at high pressure into the stricken well.

Total and Shell have evacuated all personnel in the area due to safety concerns. The Elgin rig continues to leak an estimated 200,000 cubic meters of flammable gas each day.

Related: Total Locates Source of Offshore Gas Leak