Update: North Sea Gas Leak
As the flare is extinguished and plans are being drawn to drill two relief wells, Greenpeace delivers an ominous eyewitness report.
Recent developments at the Elgin Well head platform—the Well-from-Hell—in the North Sea, where a massive gas leak has been underway since 25 March:
- The operator of the platform, supermajor oil giant Total SA, says it's losing $2.5 million a day on the leak—$1 million daily on efforts to stanch the leak and $1.5 million in daily revenue,reports AFP.
- Greenpeace members aboard the German research vessel Koenigin Juliana sailed to the edge of the exclusion zone within three nautical miles of the platform and reported seeing oil on the water in the form of a multicolored sheen, plus a faint smell of gas in the air. Total claims what they saw was a gas condensate sheen and that it poses no threat to marine life, reports The Maritime Executive.
- The flare on the platform that had been burning when the rig was evacuated extinguished itself Saturday.
- Total has outlined plans to stop the gas leak by 1) boarding the platform to control the well, while also 2) drilling a relief well and 3) drilling a backup relief well. The operations are being planned as follows, reports the Oil & Gas Journal:
Total already mobilized two rigs to drill the relief well and backup relief well. Both rigs will move to Elgin after final suspension of their current operations. Both rigs already are working for Total. The Sedco 714 semisubmersible currently is drilling on Fettercairn field north of Elgin. Transocean Ltd. owns and operates Sedco 714. The second rig is a jack up owned by Rowan Cos. Inc. The Gorilla V currently is drilling on West Franklin field. Total said it also is considering additional drilling rigs to maintain the widest possible options available for the response. Two support vessels also are standing by. One is a vessel to deploy remote-operated vehicles for underwater inspections in the vicinity of the Elgin platform. A second vessel is on standby to conduct seabed surveys of possible sites for relief wells.