North Sea oil rig evacuated after gas leak

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AN OIL platform in the North Sea has been completely evacuated following the discovery of a gas leak.

The leak was discovered yesterday on the the Elgin PUQ platform, which lies about 150 miles from Aberdeen.

Initially a partial evacuation left 19 staff on board the platform, but they too were flown to Aberdeen overnight.

Total E&P UK (TEP UK), which operates the platform, said all 238 workers on the Elgin production platform and the nearby Rowan Viking drilling rig have been accounted for and no injuries reported.

The 19 workers who had initially remained on board the platform arrived back in Aberdeen at around 3.30am, leaving it unmanned and powered down.

The company said the platform is continuing to be monitored and the investigation into the cause of the gas leak is ongoing.

It said a surveillance plane is due on the scene to investigate reports of a sheen on the water in the area.

After the discovery of the leak, 150 non-essential staff were returned to Aberdeen while a further 69 crew members were taken to neighbouring installations.

Aberdeen Coastguard co-ordinated the evacuation of the platform. Coastguard watch manager Kevin Brown said three rescue helicopters and four civilian helicopters helped with the process.

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 Environmental Protection Agency.”

The Department of Energy and Climate Change said there was no evidence of an oil leak from the platform.

A spokesman for DECC said: “This incident is connected to gas condensate operations and not crude oil. Total have reported a sheen on the sea surface in the vicinity of the installations and have mobilised an aircraft to Aberdeen which is scheduled to undertake aerial surveillance activity as soon as is practicable. Flight operations to down man personnel from the installations have taken priority over aerial surveillance.

“Total are in ongoing communication with DECC’s Offshore Environmental inspectorate and have initiated incident response procedures to confirm the source of the release. DECC has initiated its incident response procedures and made contact with all relevant agencies.”