Total to airlift team to stricken North Sea rig this week

Apr 03, 2012
French energy giant Total's Elgin rig, 150 miles (240 kms) from Aberdeen in eastern Scotland, in the North Sea. Energy giant Total said it will send a team of experts by helicopter to a stricken North Sea gas platform on Wednesday or Thursday to assess how to stop a potentially explosive gas leak.

Energy giant Total said it will send a team of experts by helicopter to a stricken North Sea gas platform on Wednesday or Thursday to assess how to stop a potentially explosive gas leak.

The French firm evacuated the Elgin rig off the Scottish coast on March 25 because of a which the company says is costing it $2.5 million (1.87 million euros) a day.

A Total spokesman told AFP on Tuesday that there would be a "helicopter flight tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, depending on the , to put a first team in place."

The spokesman said the development came after Total agreed conditions with Britain's Health and Safety Executive to "regain safe access to the platform" and that they were aiming for Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning.

Scotland experienced blizzards on Tuesday just days after basking in record temperatures for the time of year, with deep snow and temperatures of minus 0.5 degrees Celsius (33 degrees Fahrenheit).

After a flare on the rig extinguished itself, lowering the risk of an explosion from the estimated 200,000 cubic metres of highly leaking each day, Total has been focusing on efforts to stop the leak.

It is moving two rigs from elsewhere in the North Sea to drill two relief wells, in parallel with an operation to pump "heavy mud" at high pressure into the stricken well.

But a team must first be airlifted on to the platform to make a preliminary assessment of how best to stop the leak, it said.

Total, which has described the leak as its worst problem in the North Sea in a decade, said on Monday that the team plugging the leak would include outside experts from Texas-based firm Wild Well Control.

The firm was among those that worked to stem the massive oil spill following an explosion at BP's Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Total's Anglo-Dutch rival Shell has also been forced to halt output at its Shearwater platform and Noble Hans Deul rig, four miles away, because of safety concerns.

Greenpeace activists sailed to the area on Monday and reported an oily sheen stretching over the sea's surface for several miles, but both Total and British authorities say there has been no significant effect on marine life.

Total has readied a Hercules military transport plane carrying dispersant that could be sprayed on the sheen, but it said the substance was gas condensate that would probably evaporate by itself.

The last major accident in the was in 1988, when the Piper Alpha oil platform operated by the US-based Occidental Petroleum exploded, killing 167 people.

Total's British rival BP is still recovering from damage to its reputation and finances caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Explore further: US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Total identifies source of North Sea gas leak

Mar 29, 2012

French energy giant Total said Thursday it had identified the source of a gas leak on a North Sea platform which has sparked fears of an explosion and wiped billions of euros off its market value.

Total awaits advice on stricken North Sea rig

Apr 01, 2012

French energy giant Total was awaiting advice on Sunday from British regulators on whether it is safe to approach a North Sea platform that has been leaking flammable gas for a week.

North Sea oil leak biggest in decade: Britain

Aug 15, 2011

An oil spill from a platform off Scotland in the North Sea is the biggest in the region in a decade, the British government said Monday as energy giant Shell battled to close off the leak completely.

Recommended for you

US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

Apr 18, 2014

The United States announced Friday a fresh delay on a final decision regarding a controversial Canada to US oil pipeline, saying more time was needed to carry out a review.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Argiod
1 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2012
Would somebody please tell me again how these people keep telling us these rigs are safe... and how it is we have here another one 'in trouble'...? Just how high must they pile the BS before the world puts a stop to this insanity? Must we totally destroy the entire Earth for the sake of profit?

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.