A gas leak from the North Sea forced an evacuation of two rigs as the as coastguards from neighboring countries banned ships and aircrafts from travelling anywhere near the accident, while the company owning the rig dismisses a chance of an explosion.
The exclusion zone is to give the teams that are trying to fix the problem a safe working area, a spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said, according to Big Pond News.
French energy company Total S.A., the company, which operates the Elgin platform of the coast of Scotland, is evaluating its options on how to handle the situation. The company said this this is the worst problem it has faced in the North Sea in over ten years, reported Big Pond News.
The company also reportedly said there is a flare burning on the platform.
Simon Boxall, an oceanographer at Southampton University in England said there was a risk of an explosion, reported AFP.
We're dealing here with a very toxic and flammable substance, he said. It's got to be approached very carefully.
Total, however, said, based on weather conditions, there is no need to fear an explosion from the flare.
However, the company also said there appears to be no critical impact to the environment as of yet, however, they are keeping a close eye on the situation and working to address the problem.
The first indications show that there is no significant impact on the environment ... at the moment, said Total spokesman, Jacques Emmanuel Saulnier, according to the Associated Press. Today the absolute priority is to stop the leak of gas and limit the environmental damage.
However, Total is expecting it will take time before they tackle this issue.
It's not going to be solved straightforwardly -- it will take at least a few days, another spokesman told AFP.
Total said one of the possibilities they are considering is to drill a relief well, but that is time consuming and they are hoping for a faster solution.
We are fairly sure that the leak is on the platform above the level of the sea, which probably makes it easier to spot, said a spokesman according to AFP.
A gas cloud reportedly surrounded the platform of the rig, while there was also a long sheen in the surrounding area.
In order to remove the sheen of gas, the company is dispersing an agent in hopes it will evaporate it.
Over 230 workers were forced to evacuate from Total's rig on Monday when the leak was detected Sunday night.
Total said most where airlifted from the rig and reported no injuries.
The last 19 were evacuated by boat because it was too risky to continue using helicopters,' said Bob Crow, general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers which represents offshore energy workers.
Approximately 85 crew members of nearby facility that is operated by Shell, the Shearwater platform and Noble Hans Deul drilling rig, was also evacuated as a precaution reported Big Pond.
As a result of the incident, Total shares fell 2.7 percent on Wednesday.