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Vladimir Putin sends condolences to Total CEO

Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended his condolences to the family of Christophe de Margarie, who died in a plane crash late last night in an airport in Moscow.

The chief executive of French oil giant Total regularly travelled to Russia, and recently dined in Paris with an ally of President Putin, who is under EU sanctions. Mr Putin's spokesman said:

Vladimir Putin had known de Margerie for a long time and had maintained close working contact with him.

The president highly valued the business qualities of de Margerie, as well as his staunch commitment both to the cause of promoting Russian-French relations and their mutually beneficial diverse co-operation in general.

– Dmitry Peskov

French President Francois Hollande expressed his "stupor and sadness" at the news.

Driver involved in crash that killed Total CEO 'drunk'

The driver of the snow plow involved in a deadly plane crash that killed the chief executive of French oil company Total was drunk, Russian investigators said.

The crash occurred late last night in an airport in Moscow. A spokesperson for Russia's Investigative Committee said:

At the moment, it is already established that the driver of the snow plow was in a condition of alcoholic intoxication.

– Russia's Investigative Committee

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Total CEO De Margerie killed in Moscow plane crash

Christophe de Margerie. Credit: PA Wire

The chief executive of French oil firm Total has been killed in a plane crash in Moscow, airport officials confirmed.

Christophe de Margerie died in an accident at Moscow's Vnukovo airport on Monday night, a spokeswoman for the airport said.

The spokeswoman said: "Tonight, a plane crashed when it collided with a snow-clearing machine.

"Three crew members and a passenger died. I can confirm that the passenger was Total's head de Margerie"

In a statement posted on the Total website, the firm said: "The thoughts of the management and employees of the Group go out to Christophe de Margerie’s wife, children and loved ones as well as to the families of the three other victims."

Minister: Fracking 'only allowed if absolutely safe'

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.

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."

Rig operator: 'Gas leak has stopped'

The operator of a gas leak on an oil platform in the North Sea says it has completely stopped.

Work to "kill" the leak started last week on Total's Elgin platform, around 150 miles from Aberdeen. The leak was stopped after heavy mud was pumped into it.

238 staff were evacuated from the platform when the leak was detected almost two months ago Credit: Reuters

Gas leak was second in North Sea in last two years

Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, said the news the leak had stopped was welcome, but pointed out it was the second serious leak in the North Sea in two years.

"We should be trying to give up our addiction to oil and gas, and not seeking it out in more difficult places with the risks to the environment that poses when things go wrong," he said

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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.

"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. 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.

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.

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