THE operators of the Elgin oil platform in the North Sea have reported that a burning flare close to a gas leak has been extinguished.
Total issued a statement yesterday morning saying that the flame had burned itself out. Although it was said to be blowing in the opposite direction, fears had been raised that the proximity of the flare to the leak could prove catastrophic. The company said on Friday that work on drilling relief wells to tackle the problem is due to start within ten days. The gas leak at the platform, about 150 miles off the Scottish coast, forced the evacuation of 238 staff members a week ago.
“It is great news that the flare has extinguished itself, but it remains to be seen exactly when we can start work,” a spokesman for Total told Scotland on Sunday.
Other plans to stem the leak include “killing” the well with mud, a process which is likely to require reinstalling workers onto the platform – and could take months.
The gas is coming from a rock formation below the sea, underneath the Elgin platform. It is then escaping into the air from a leak on the platform at the top of the well, about 25 metres above sea level.
Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead welcomed the news. He said: “Now that the flare is no longer burning, a key factor relating to this incident has hopefully now been removed from calculations.”