Gas leaking into the North Sea from a platform owned by Total could take longer to stop after the French company discovered the problem is deeper under the seabed than initially thought.
An investigation by the Guardian newspaper last July revealed that dangerous leaks had already been registered from several of the company’s platforms in the North Sea.
Total previously stated that it hoped the leak would run itself dry as reservoir pressure drops.
However, with the leak’s origin being 4,000 metres below the seabed, a hole will need to be bored, which could take six months and cost more than 2.25 billion euros.
If the wind carries the gas cloud, sparks from tools and equipment, or the flare used to purge gas from the platform could ignite the fumes.
The risk of this is very small, according to David Hainsworth, Health Safety and Environment Manager at Total Exploration and Production.
“It doesn’t pose a risk because the flare by design is upwind of the prevailing wind so any gas leaks are blown away directly away from the flare,” Hainsworth said.
Despite downplaying the danger, Total has sent firefighting boats as close to the platform as it can – no nearer than just over three kilometres because of an exclusion zone.