The energy company Total has been trying to contain a natural gas leak at their Elgin offshore drilling platform for the past day or so. This natural gas drilling platform is located off the coast of Scotland, and the leak has resulted in the formation of a large gas cloud, which, if ignited, has the potential to cause a massive explosion.
“If the gas cloud somehow finds an ignition source, we could be looking at complete destruction,” said Jake Molloy, an official with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers.
There is not as much gas as was previously thought at the offshore natural gas drilling rig, due to the fact that the wind has been blowing it away. As an understandable safety precaution, 240 workers were removed from the rig due to the high potential of a disaster.
“Investigations are ongoing to analyze the causes and to determine the remediation of the gas leak,” according to Total, the energy company.
According to Total, there is a “sheen” on the water in the platform’s vicinity.
Natural gas vaporizes into gas form immediately when exposed to the atmosphere, and under water too — it bubbles up and out of the water, into the atmosphere, due to it’s low density.
This incident is reminiscent of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, of course, but it isn’t quite the same. This is a gas leak, not a liquid, so it bubbles out of the water, rather than settling on it and depriving it and marine life of oxygen as oil does. Also, the risk of explosion is greater due to the large amount of flammable and poisonous gas leaking into the atmosphere.
Historic Fact: The North Sea was actually the vicinity in which the world’s first offshore drilling disaster took place in 1988. It was the Piper Alpha explosion, and it killed 167 people.