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Flare still burning on North Sea gas leak platform

Rupert Neate, The Guardian
A flare is still burning on the North Sea platform that has been leaking gas for the last four days.

Total, the French oil company that operates the platform, first disclosed that the flare was still burning late on Tuesday night. The wind is blowing the gas in the opposite direction but, if it should come into contact with the flare, there is a high risk of explosion.

David Hainsworth, health and safety manager for Total UK, told the Guardian that Total had not informed the media earlier the flare was still burning because “we have been trying to feed information that is pertinent as the situation was unfolding, the fact that the flare was burning was not one of the most pertinent parts of information. It [the flare] is not our immediate concern.”

The fact that the flare is still alight was only made clear last night following a direct question on Channel 4 News. “I was asked a direct question by Channel 4. I can only answer questions,” Hainsworth said. “[It was] not our number one top priority whether the flare was alight. We’ve been trying to get useful information to the media to tell [the public].”…
(28 March 2012)

“May be months” to stop North Sea gas cloud – Total

Oleg Vukmanovic, Reuters
A cloud of explosive natural gas boiling up from the North Sea out of a leak at Total’s evacuated Elgin platform forced another shutdown off the Scottish coast on Tuesday as the French firm warned it could take six months to halt the flow.

Dubbed “the well from hell” by an environmentalist who said the unusually high pressure of the undersea reservoirs made it especially hard to shut off, the loss of oil and gas output from Elgin – as well as the prospect of a big repair bill – helped drive Total’s share price down six percent on the Paris bourse.

As Shell pulled its bigger Shearwater facility offline too and an air and sea exclusion zone was declared around the forlorn Elgin rig, 150 miles (250 km) east of Aberdeen, green campaigners denounced dangers in the technically challenging deep drilling that energy companies have undertaken around the globe to exploit the high prices created by insatiable demand.

The Elgin well, pumping some three percent of Britain’s gas output from nearly four miles below the seabed, pushes the frontiers of technology and is one of the deepest, most highly pressurized, offshore natural gas fields in the world. It now sits empty following Sunday’s emergency evacuation of 238 crew…
(28 March 2012)

Total’s UK outage cuts Forties oil supply -traders

Alex Lawler and Zaida Espana, Reuters
Oil flows through the Forties pipeline have been curbed by the shutdown of Total’s Elgin platform following a gas leak, oil traders said on Tuesday.

Oil produced at the facility is exported via the BP-operated Forties Pipeline System. Two oil trading sources said Total’s Elgin-Franklin site had been providing about 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) to Forties.

Forties is important for the global oil market because it usually sets the value of dated Brent, the benchmark for pricing up to 70 percent of the world’s physical oil, and is part of the underlying market for Brent futures.

The Forties oil stream is scheduled to export about 440,000 bpd in April, according to the loading programme…
(27 March 2012)