Total’s Elgin platform

A cloud of explosive natural gas boiling out of the North Sea from a leak at Total’s abandoned Elgin platform forced wider evacuations off the Scottish coast on Tuesday as the French firm warned it may take six months to halt the flow…

Officials imposed an air and sea exclusion zone around the platform, which had been pumping 9 million cubic meters of gas per day or three percent of Britain’s natural gas output and lies some 150 miles east of the city of Aberdeen.

A senior Total manager said the firm was looking at two main options – drilling a relief well, which could take six months, or the faster – potentially riskier – alternative of sending in engineers to “kill” the leak affecting a platform that also accounts for some 5.5 percent of Britain’s total oil production…

Shipping was ordered to come no closer than two miles from the Elgin platform and aircraft no nearer than three miles if they flew lower than 4,000 feet – effectively shutting out helicopters but not affecting airline traffic.

British officials said the gas, containing poisonous hydrogen sulphide – familiar from the smell of rotten eggs – should disperse in the atmosphere. But it poses a risk to anyone close to the source, making capping the well complex.

Poison in the gas could also threaten fish and other marine life nearby, although the rate at which it dissipates in air and water meant it was not a significant threat to people on land…

Then there are the “what-if” scenarios.

  1. NewfornatSux says:

    >Then there are the “what-if” scenarios.

    I think if it had just been discovered today, gas heating of homes would be disallowed. Why it’s an explosive chemical being piped into homes 24/7!

    • spsffan says:

      Actually, if you look at the statistics, I think you will find that fires from people using heating methods other than gas kill a lot more people.

      Every year, we have several idiots taken out of the gene pool by using charcoal, or liquid fuel or unvented propane heaters. Not to mention Christmas tree fires!

      Fires due to natural gas do happen, but they are pretty rare.

      You want danger? Try crossing the street!

      • Pays2Think says:

        So you think the irresponsible behavior and actions of a multinational corporation endangering hundreds of millions of people is the same as one idiot blowing himself up in his backyard.

        Tell that to the people in Japan who have temporarily managed to survive massive radiation leaks or the fisherman on the Gulf Coast who lost millions or those that died or suffered through radiation poisoning around 3 mile Island or those that died or were displaced by Chernobyl etc. etc. etc.

  2. Michael - The one that doesn't write all those long-arse names like Boobo says:


    Betcha 50 bucks there’s a nuclear option to resolve this.

  3. soundwash says:

    Looks like BP’s plan to raise natgas prices is (slowly) moving along as planned.


  4. Dallas says:

    Teapublican candidates suggested a giant rug be thrown over the platform. Brilliant!

  5. MRN says:

    With all the fracking, deep sea, shale oil and other resource extraction accidents I guess the choice comes down to whichever our civilization will value more: food and clean water, or fuel and sources of energy?

    • Pays2Think says:

      The irony of this argument is that we could have both food and clean water and clean sources of energy. If we made the effort we could easily power our businesses, homes and all land-based transportation with either photovoltaic, photothermal, wind, tidal, wave or geothermal derived energy. less costly than the actual cost of fossil based and nuclear fuels when you add back in the military, cleanup and health related expenses.

      • deowll says:

        Easily or cheaply has been proven to be a flat out lie.

        There are 14000 prayer wheels that are standing abandoned in this nation because they can’t compete. Part of it is because many kill huge numbers of birds and thus stand idle for 4 months a year during migration. They can’t be used any day the wind is to strong or two slow.

        Getting permits to build these things is getting harder because of not in my back yard. People don’t want huge dangerous noisy machines near them.

        Solar computes, sometimes, in some locations. I’ll let you guys pay for it but if you want power after dark you are still going to have to have nuclear plants able to carry the full load anyway. Geothermal in many locations seems to have about the same issues as fracking.

        I know a lot of you guys don’t want to hear this but for the last 15 years planetary temps have been running about the same. Global warming has been put on hold by mother nature. In the last 4,000 years the earth has been this warm or warmer at least 18 times.

        Yes the adjacent 48 states had a mild winter. Alaska didn’t and 500 people died because of extreme cold and heavy snow fall in the EU. Asia didn’t get off easy either.

        I know you live in a fantasy land but get over it.

        • slotmouth says:

          “They can’t be used any day the wind is to strong or two slow.”
          Congratulations using “too” incorrectly twice in the same sentence!

  6. DrillBabyDrill says:

    Hey I came here to see how the paid trolls would blame this on the current US administration, where are those guys, did they get jobs??
    Can someone calculate the greenhouse gas effect of this leak versus global cowfart production?

  7. msbpodcast says:

    That might sound like the BP (British Petroleum) oil spill all over again, but this time its natural gas mixing with ambient oxygen, the company is French (Total is a French company) and its could lead to a huge air burst explosion of colossal proportion. (Imagine an atom bomb’s worth of natural gas explosion.)

    If it was closer to shore it would probably remind people of Halifax harbor.

    Too bad suicidal angry birds can’t carry burning matches in their beaks.

    That would make for an epic barbecue.

    • bobbo, the only poster to date willing to express the germ of his contribution to this blog by putting it all up front in his nom de flame and currently testing just how much crap can be written into the required name field is proud to respond to all crit says:

      mpod–I recall the USAF development of gas/air bombs for use in Vietnam. Similar to what MythBusters found — the air/gas mixture is very critical to getting anything but a slow dispersion. final conclusion: not reliable enough to put into use. Yes, it potentially can happen but not often. More often you can get a fire, but even that is rare. Thats why we don’t hear about rigs/refineries blowing up much even though the stench from the leaking gas is detectable for miles around.

      Makes you appreciate what a marvel lighting farts really is. Almost as if perfectly designed for some other worldly purpose?

      • bobbo says:

        Hey! – Not bad!!

      • Pays2Think says:

        Funny but not true. Natural gas out of the ground is composed primarily of methane which is actually about 85% by volume. Methane is at least 20 worse than carbon dioxide when present in the atmosphere. In addition, allowing natural gas to be emitted into the atmosphere is far worse than burning it.

      • deowll says:

        I doubt if you could get one to work during a hurricane but you seriously need to go back and do your home work if you don’t know that both the US and Russians have such in inventory.

  8. Ken says:

    This sounds like my living room after the dog eats the leftovers.

  9. sargasso_c says:

    Hydrogen sulphide is toxic to sea life and birds.

    • So what says:

      Hydrogen sulfide pretty much toxic to everything except a few anaerobic bacteria.

      • jasontheodd says:

        It can also be ignited by lightning, and there will soon be a cloud of the stuff the size of a small town in an area frequently hit by storms…directly over the heads of the workers attempting to seal the leak. Do you have any unemployed enemies or in-laws you don’t like? “There’s this fantastic work opportunity off the coast of Scotland I wanted to tell you about……….”

  10. MartinJJ says:

    Shell had to evacuate two nearby platforms as well. The Shearwater platform is still operational, but the Noble Hans Deulplatform has been shut down. It’s not only the toxic gas being a healthrisk, but if it explodes, it will cause a giant oilspill.

    To my knowledge this kind of natural gas is a byproduct of drilling for oil. There are three options to get rid of that. Use it (most logical), burn it (those giant flames on oilplatforms) or pump it back into the well.

    Tip: Someone put the book “The Energy Non-Crisis” online and it is well worth reading. Alaska holds oil and gas reserves that can keep everyone warm and going for the next 200 years. And the gasprice at the pump could be 60 cents a gallon (see chapters at the bottom):


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