North sea oil platform evacuated after gas leak

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A North Sea oil platform has been evacuated after the discovery of a gas leak.  The leak was discovered on Sunday on the Elgin PUQ platform about 150 miles (240km) off Aberdeen.  The platform is operated by Total E&P UK.

According to witnesses, the sea beneath the platform was “boiling” with gas emissions, indicating a sub-sea problem.  There is no evidence of any oil leak into the North Sea, but the platform is being monitored so quick action can be taken in case an oil leak should occur.  The gas cloud surrounding the platform is expected to disperse harmlessly.  

238 workers on the platform were taken by helicopter to Aberdeen.  Most of the workers were evacuated yesterday, leaving just 19 essential maintenance staff on the platform overnight.  However safety concerns led to the evacuation of these workers early on Monday morning.  The platform has been powered down.

Union official Jake Molloy told the BBC: “It appears, from what I have been told thus far, that the stand-by vessel which circles the installation had actually seen gas on the surface of the sea.

“Apparently the sea was seen to be ‘boiling’ with gas below the rig, which suggests a sub-sea problem, rather than a problem on the installation.”

“If it is, as they suspect, gas and a mixture of condensate gases – that is highly inflammable gases – and potentially H2S (hydrogen sulfide), which is a highly-toxic agent that can kill you on the spot, that explains itself that it is very dangerous. A very volatile situation.”

A statement from the company said: “Investigations are continuing to determine the cause of the ongoing gas leak and TEP UK is monitoring the situation closely.

“TEP UK is co-operating fully with all relevant authorities including the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Health and Safety Executive and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.”