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The Saker
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North Sea gas leak threatens environmental disaster

category international | environment | other press author Thursday March 29, 2012 13:53author by JoeMcIvor - sbuauthor email joemcivor at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors


Energy giants Total and Shell are downplaying the threat to the environment from the Elgin gas leak , which was first detected last Sunday in a field that lies150 miles off the coast of Scotland . The French Total energy conglomerate which owns the well has evacuated staff from the platform . Shell evacuated 120 oil workers from a nearby rig citing the danger of drifting gas.

“The Norwegian Bellona environmental group that monitors the oil industry has described the Elgin platform as “the well from hell”. The head of the organisation, Frederic Hauge, citing anonymous sources said that platform staff had struggled for 14 hours to contain the leak before having to evacuate the rig on Monday. “They saw the sea bubbling with gas under the platform. This is quite shocking”.’

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/mar2012/nort-m29.shtml

author by JoeMcpublication date Thu Mar 29, 2012 14:27Report this post to the editors

Total has called the Elgin leak “the most serious problem it has faced in the North Sea for a decade” while insisting that the environmental impact will be "minimal". The energy giant says that the wind is not currently blowing the cloud of highly flammable gas towards a flare located above the platform, despite it being less than 100 metres above the leak.

However experts have warned that gas from the platform could ignite "with catastrophic consequences” if it does come into contact with the flare , which was left burning when workers evacuated the rig. It is still unclear whether the flare was deliberately allowed to burn by Total when the rig was abandoned . The wsws report above quotes the BBC’s Colin Blane describing the incident as a “serious, uncontrolled leak” and “that this is the highest pressure well in the world as far as I understand.”

Total's shares plunged 6.0 percent on the French stock exchange on Tuesday and finished down a further 1.40 percent at just over 38 euros on Wednesday.

author by Rational Ecologist.publication date Thu Mar 29, 2012 14:51Report this post to the editors

Yet more evidence for the end of the Fossil Fuel era. The end of Consumerism and unsustainable lifestyles cannot come too soon.

author by QuelleSurprisepublication date Fri Mar 30, 2012 05:08Report this post to the editors

I wonder how much huge clouds of methane and hydrogen sulphide will impact the environment?

I wonder will shell have to pay for the UK carbon credits used up by large scale methane pollution? methane is 23 times as potent as a greenhouse gas as CO2. This is not to mention potential acid rain.

No, No fear of corporations ever being held properly accountable for deaths/environmental damage they cause. Its nothing when they do it on a huge scale.

but you and I are screwed with tax because we drive 30 miles per day to work and back in our shitty little cars. Or taxed up the ass because our septic tank isn't perfect.

Oil leaks in the gulf, busted tankers in alaska, piper alpha, fracking screwing up aquifers etc etc. None of that is a big deal to big corporations or their government lackeys

Occidental never were taken to task over piper alpha for example. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piper_Alpha.

Exxon valdez escaped and never paid the proper fines of 5 billion+ and ended up after several appeals paying 500million. (interestingly, this case resulted in the first "credit default swap" by JP Morgan)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exxon_Valdez_oil_spill

We should consider all this when allowing exploration in our waters by dodgy corporations. Especially since we get next to nothing under current terms. Anybody with two braincells would conclude that we would be better off keeping our environment clean than destroying it and getting nothing in return. In fact probably getting a negative due to having to fight them in the courts over any cleanup and losing through corruption or the successful actions of their "slick" lawyers

author by JoeMcpublication date Fri Mar 30, 2012 15:49Report this post to the editors

According to the latest online reports , 100-200 people are still working on rigs within five miles of the Elgin platform as the flare continues to threaten to ignite the area in the event of a change in wind direction. . UNITE , the union representing the rig workers , issued a statement yesterday : "The oil companies must put people before profit and we are now calling for them to bring forward plans for an immediate evacuation of the impacted area."

“No, No fear of corporations ever being held properly accountable for deaths/environmental damage they cause. Its nothing when they do it on a huge scale. “

Quelle Surprise is quite right . It’s very much like the situation with the banks that dump all their toxic losses on the rest of us . After making huge profits for their shareholders these multi-nationals leave others to pay the clean-up costs. A Total spokesman said yesterday that the methane leak was coming from a wellhead that was 'plugged' a year ago.. Worldwide, there are an estimated 20-30 million abandoned oil and gas wells that are supposed to have been “plugged”.

author by JoeMcpublication date Sun Apr 01, 2012 16:30Report this post to the editors

Total and the authorities in the UK both describe the expected environmental impact as "minimal”. I’m no expert but I don’t trust either Total or the UK authorities , both of whom have vested interests in playing down the incident . The flare above the platform has been extinguished since yesterday morning . Its presence so close to the methane build-up was likely to cause a huge explosion in the event of a change in wind direction -that was what Total itself was saying . The union official who called for the evacuation of rigs in the area wasn't just trying to score political points , as far as I can see . As engineers begin their attempts to plug the leak , news reports are now concerning themselves mostly with the financial impact of the leak .

Methane is one of the principle greenhouse gases . According to wikipedia , “Atmospheric methane is one of the most potent and influential greenhouse gases on Earth. The 100-year global warming potential of methane is 25, i.e. over a 100-year period, it traps 25 times more heat per mass unit than carbon dioxide.”

The natural gas industry in the US launched the Natural Gas STAR Program in 1993 , which was designed in partnership with government environmental agencies so as to reduce methane emissions. STAR program literature boasts about dramatic reductions to methane emissions achieved since that time . I suppose that would all have been a waste of time and money if analysis about methane’s generally benign effect on the environment was correct .
.
Environmental groups have taken a different view :

"The industry is trying to squeeze out the very last of the Earth's reserves and companies such as Total, BP and Royal Dutch Shell are pushing themselves into exploration that is extremely difficult, costly and risky," a spokesperson for Greenpeace told newspapers two days ago . Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland. said . “There is also oil in that well, and Total need to move before an oil spill becomes part of this leak,"

 
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