Platform flare extinguishes itself


Operators of a North Sea platform which is leaking gas have said a burning flare on the platform has "extinguished itself".

A statement from the company said: "Total can this morning confirm that the flare on the Elgin platform has extinguished itself.

"We received the first indication that the flare may be out at 12.07 yesterday from our first surveillance flight of the day. The news was then reaffirmed at 16.36 following our second flight of the day.

"We received what we consider final confirmation at 08.20 this morning, when our sea vessels on location reported no further flare activity through the night."

The company had said that there was minimal risk from the flare, which was burning about 150 metres above sea level.

About 200,000 cubic metres of gas have been escaping every day from the Elgin platform, about 150 miles off the coast of Aberdeen, Philippe Guys, Total UK managing director, said.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, he said there has been "little change" in the past five days.

Proposals to stop the leak include "killing" the well with mud and drilling relief wells which could take as long as six months.

Two drilling rigs have stopped work on other wells in the area.

Mr Guys added: "The question has been asked if there could be similar problems with other wells on Elgin. What I can tell you is that when the platform was evacuated, all other wells were left in a safe condition."

Spotter planes have been making three flights a day over the rig.

The gas is coming from a rock formation below the sea, underneath the Elgin platform. It is then escaping into the air from a leak on the platform at the top of the well, about 25 metres above sea level.