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Minister: Fracking 'only allowed if absolutely safe'

business secretary
There is a lot more shale gas under Britain's surface than previously thought, Michael Fallon said. Credit: Daybreak/ITV

Total's plans to explore Britain for shale gas is "extremely important" as it shows "one of the world's Big Five oil companies" sees a lot of opportunity in the UK, according to a business minister.

Read more: Greenpeace slam Total plans for fracking in the UK

Michael Fallon told Daybreak any go-ahead for fracking in Britain would be "regulated properly" and "would only be allowed if absolutely safe".

He continued: "The announcement by Total this morning is extremely important. It shows that one of the world's Big Five oil companies now sees the opportunity to explore for shale gas here.

"We know now there is a lot more shale gas down there than previously thought and there is a huge opportunity to go down there and get it."

Read more: Tax boost for 'fracking' councils

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Scottish Secretary welcomes gas leak operation

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has welcomed news the gas leak in the North Sea has been halted.

He said: "This is welcome news from the Elgin platform and good progress. It is important that the work continues to manage and monitor the well over the coming days to ensure the operation to stop the gas leak has been a complete success.

Scottish Secretary Michael Moore
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore.

"The UK Government has been in touch with the company throughout this incident and DECC has closely monitored progress throughout. I am certain that key lessons will be learned from this leak which can be applied across the sector."

North Sea gas leak is halted

A gas leak on a North Sea oil platform has been stopped, according to the operators.

Work to "kill" the leak started yesterday on Total's Elgin platform, around 150 miles from Aberdeen, with heavy mud being pumped into the well.

Total said the operation lasted 12 hours.

Total's Elgin platform in the North Sea.
Total's Elgin platform in the North Sea. Credit: Press Association

All 238 staff were evacuated from the platform when the leak was detected almost two months ago in March.

At one point about 200,000 cubic metres of gas was leaking every day but this was said to have been reduced by two-thirds when workers started drilling a relief well last month.

Total was granted approval from the Department of Energy and Climate Change almost two weeks ago to carry out the "kill" operation.

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Total to send staff to gas leaking Elgin platform

The French oil company Total plans to fly a team of experts to its gas-leaking Elgin platform in the North Sea.

It will also meet with health and safety experts on Monday to discuss the risks involved, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has confirmed.

A spokesman for the body said: "The company has prepared risk assessments for landing a helicopter on the platform and sending a team to carry out observations at the site of the gas release."

The HSE's role is to give Total advice on how to best comply with safety laws, but does not give permission for the company to send people to the platform.

Energy company weighs up options to extinguish North Sea flare

French oil company Total is considering its options to put out a flare on its Elgin North Sea gas platform. They include a helicopter water drop, fire-fighting vessels and pumping nitrogen to starve it of oxygen.

Total has confirmed in their latest update to the Government's inspectors today that the flare remains lit but observations from the latest aerial surveillance suggest that the flame appears to be reducing in size.

– Department of Energy and Climate Change
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