Environmental group Greenpeace says there is a lot of oil around Total’s stricken Elgin platform in the North Sea.
Activists sailed up to the exclusion zone surrounding the installation where gas started leaking more than a week ago.
Water samples will be analysed later when the Greenpeace ship returns to Germany. However the group is already warning that a layer of oil is visible to the naked eye.
“We have oil on the water surface and we smell there is something in the air,” said Greenpeace expedition leader Christian Bussau. “It smells like chemicals. So although we are five kilometres away, we can feel here that this is contaminating, polluting the environment and this is dangerous for the environment and for the climate.”
French energy giant Total has evacuated all workers from the rig, 240 kilometres off the Scottish coast. It says the sheen on the water is gas condensate which poses no big threat to wildlife.
Saying it is spending a million dollars a day trying to plug the leak, Total plans to fly crisis engineers to the platform. Staff representatives fear that is too dangerous, given the amount of gas that has escaped.