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Elgin leak has not directly contaminated North Sea environment

24 April 2012

The leak which has spewed around 200,000 cubic metres of gas daily since March 25 has not directly contaminated the marine environment, the Scottish government said on April 19, citing the results of tests of water and sediment.

The Scottish Government says the effects of the leak on the marine environment are minimal
The Scottish Government says the effects of the leak on the marine environment are minimal

"All data gathered to date continues to demonstrate that the effects on the marine environment of the Elgin gas leak are, so far, minimal," Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead said in a statement.

Samples collected on the edge of a two-mile exclusion zone around the evacuated platform found no traces of oil and gas pollution, the Scottish government said. "The sediment samples were found to be unaffected by the gas leak, with the samples' chemical indicators being typical of what is found elsewhere in the North Sea," it added.

Following this announcement, the UK Government told Total it could drill a relief well to stem the leak. It will take about six months to drill a high-pressure, high-temperature relief well to permanently seal the leaking G4 Elgin well 4,400 metres below the seabed, the Energy Ministry said.

Total is also pursuing its preferred option of a so-called "well kill" - which is cheaper and faster but also more risky - that involves pumping heavy mud into the well from the platform shrouded in explosive gas.

Total has said the leak was costing it $2.5 million per day.

Britain could be facing as much as a 6 percent cut to gas supplies this summer due to the closure of three large fields following a leak found beneath Total's Elgin platform, according to the National Grid.

Total's Elgin and Franklin fields and Shell's neighbouring Shearwater site were shut down in late March following the evacuation of the Elgin platform after workers first detected the leak.

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