Total Locates Source of Offshore Gas Leak

Published Mar 29, 2012 11:31 AM by The Maritime Executive

Total has found the source off the offshore oil platform gas leak in the North Sea. The energy giant has confirmed that the leak is not underwater, but is instead located on the deck level of the well head platform. Total was forced to evacuate the Elgin rig after the Sunday leak began.

The decision now is whether it’s possible to wait for the gas to stop leaking on its own or if a relief well must be drilled. They also have the option to fill it with mud in a kill operation, according to CNN. The leak is believed to have started as workers were sealing the well in the North Sea about 150 miles east of Aberdeen.

The Elgin is being compared to the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, but there are noteworthy differences. The Elgin is in significantly shallower water, which could make problems easier to fix, however gas catches fire much more easily. The spill is reportedly rather light and the gas appears to be dispersing itself quickly. There is hope that the gas pressure is so faint inside that it will blow itself out.

Union representatives claim there is an urgent need to stop the leak, as there is always a possibility that the gas cloud could find an ignition source. On the other hand, oceanographer experts think the explosion risk is not as high as initially thought due to the fact that there has been no blast when the flare on the gas rig is still burning. In any event, Total has ensured that fire-fighting ships are waiting on scene near the platform. The amount of gas may not be as large as first believed.

For the time being, the wind seems to be blowing the gas cloud away from the flare on the Elgin rig. Total confirmed there was a sheen on the water in the immediate area, but said there was no indication of environmental damage. There have been no injuries. Shell has also partially evacuated two of its nearby platforms, Shearwater and Hans Deul, as a precautionary measure.

Total's share price was down about 2% in trading in France on Thursday afternoon. The French company's share price fell 7% Tuesday on news of the leak, reports CNN.

Original report: Gas Leak Springs On North Sea Rig, Sheen Detected

CNN news report video below: