Total Gas Leak Forces Rigs to Evac

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 @ 01:03 PM gHale

A growing gas cloud from a leak at a North Sea platform operated by Total off Scotland forced Shell to remove workers from two nearby rigs.

The gas leak on a rig operated by the French firm began on Sunday and has formed a cloud dense enough that workers on other North Sea rigs could see it.

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Total said it was unable to predict when or how they could contain the leak.

“The gas leak at the Elgin well head platform remains ongoing, and we are taking all possible measures to try to identify the source and cause of the leak and to bring it under control,” Total UK said in a statement.

A Total spokesman Tuesday said company technical teams were investigating the cause of the gas leak but declined to give further details.

The company removed all 238 workers aboard the Elgin rig on Sunday, shutting down oil and gas production and reporting no injuries.

Workers evacuated to Aberdeen and neighboring offshore installations.

Shell said it had removed some workers from two of its platforms.

“Shell UK Limited can confirm that a partial downman of personnel is underway at the company’s Shearwater platform and the nearby Noble Hans Deul drilling rig,” a spokesman said.

Both are 225 km (138 miles) east of Aberdeen, with the Shearwater platform about four nautical miles from Total’s leaking Elgin rig.

There was no affect on the output from the Shearwater platform while drilling on Shell’s Noble Hans Deul rig suspended, he said.

“Shell considers this to be a prudent precautionary measure following the gas leak,” Shell said.

The environmental impact of gas condensate leaks is substantially lower than from oil spills, the UK energy ministry said.

An aerial surveillance flight confirmed there was a sheen on the water. The sheen, thought to be gas condensate, is a direct consequence of the gas leak and usually evaporates naturally, a Total UK spokeswoman said.

The Elgin/Franklin field can produce 280,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, which includes 175,000 barrels of condensate and 15.5 million cubic meters of gas (mcm/d).

The oil exports via the BP-operated Forties Pipeline System to Kinneil in Scotland while the gas flows through the SEAL pipeline to Bacton in Norfolk.

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