North sea platform leak leads to evacuation and 4 mile exclusion zone

More than 300 employers evacuated and a four-mile exclusion zone set up following a leak sprung from an offshore oil platform.

The leak on Total’s Elgin PUQ platform, about 150 miles off the coast of Aberdeen, has been named the ‘well from hell’ as it proves to be so difficult to plug. Total E&P UK, said it is taking “all possible measures” to try to identify the source and cause of the leak and to bring it under control.

A giant explosive gas cloud has formed over the North sea oil rig which could be looming for up to 6 months and may expand towards the Scottish coast. Coastguards have today demanded an exclusion zone stretching up to four miles has been set up around the platform to reduce damage following the possibility of an explosion. Ships must stay at least two miles away, planes must keep a distance of three miles, while rigs up to four miles away are being emptied in case they get caught up in any explosion.

David Hainsworth, health, safety and environment manager for Total speaks about the risks around the situation.

He said: “The gas is flammable but the platform power was turned off to minimise risk of ignition, but clearly there is a risk. We have taken away a series of risks but there is always a possibility, it’s low, but you never say never.

“The best-case scenario is that the gas in this area is not very productive and it dies off in the coming days and weeks.

There have been two options discussed to stop the leak Total say they are considering a drilling relief well to divert the gas, which would be a safe way to end the crisis, but it could take up to six months.

Although there is a faster and riskier alternative of sending engineers onto the rig to ‘kill’ the leak is also on the table, but it would mean having workers at the centre of a potential disaster zone.

It is also being reported the team of Texan ‘Hellfighters’ who battled the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010, which killed 11 and injured 16, is being brought to Scotland by Total to prevent or tackle a blast

Total’s shares dived about five percent today as it scrambled to present a strategy to deal with the leak.

About The Author