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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

Total finds source of North Sea gas leak

Total has said it has found the source of the gas leak from its North Sea platform.

In a statement it said:

The leak is from a well that was plugged one year ago and from a rock formation in about 4,000 metres depth.

The gas is coming from the Elgin platform above sea level but engineers say they need to know where the leak is coming from before they repair it.

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Total has 'not identified cause of gas leak'

Oil company Total is still trying to identify the specific cause of a gas leak at its Elgin PUQ platform in the North Sea. A spokesman for the company said: "We have not precisely identified the cause of the incident."

He added that a solution was still being evaluated and that it "is a question of days" to find one. The French firm warned on Tuesday that it could take six months to halt the flow if it decides to drill a relief well.

Marine pollution specialist: 'Gas leak could harm marine life'

Two-mile exclusion zone has been set up around the offshore platform which has been evacuated after a gas leak. Credit: TOTAL E&P UK Ltd/PA Wire

Dr Martin Preston, marine pollution specialist and research fellow at the University of Liverpool has said that a gas leak at one of operator Total's offshore platform could harm marine life. Dr Preston said that the process to drill a relief well may take months. He said:

"The gas in this field is 'sour gas' - it contains hydrogen sulphide which is very poisonous to humans and aquatic life - so localised risks to marine life are likely".

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Total considering drilling relief well

Total UK is considering all options including drilling a relief well to stem a massive gas leak at its Elgin PUQ oil rig in the North Sea, which could take six months, a spokesman told Reuters on Tuesday.

There are two options for intervening. One is drilling a relief well which could take about six months. The other is a platform intervention to kill the well...This would be a faster option. We expect to decide on a plan in the coming days.

– David Hainsworth, health, safety and environment manager, Total E&P UK
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