Experts look at impact of gas leak

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Experts are starting to assess the environmental impact of a gas leak from an offshore platform.

A newly-established Environment Group, chaired by Marine Scotland, is to monitor the impact of the leak from Total’s Elgin platform.

Marine Research Vessel Alba na Mara began work yesterday collecting and analysing environmental samples.

Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead, who met Total representatives, said: “The environmental risk continues to be assessed as minimal at this stage. However, the Scottish government remains vigilant and we are carefully monitoring the situation and any developments.

“I continue to be kept fully updated and we are in regular contact with both Total and the UK government.”

A team of specialists flew out to the platform and spent four hours on the installation, around 150 miles off Aberdeen, gathering information that will help them decide how best to stop the leak. They carried out a preliminary survey of the leak area, and established zones which can be safely accessed and gathered data.

Three Total employees and five specialists from Wild Well Control, a specialised well intervention company, took off from Aberdeen at 10.30am on Thursday and landed on the Elgin PUQ before safely returning to the mainland before 5pm.

Plans are still progressing for the drilling of a relief well, as well as a back-up relief well. About 200,000 cubic metres of gas are escaping from the platform each day, coming out from a rock formation below the sea.