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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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