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Big North Sea Gas Drilling Platform Leak


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Hi, I can't find a thread about this, but apologies if I missed one. and I know it's not strictly HPC related, but could it potentially have a big affect on our fagile economy?? (mods feel free to move / merge)

Channel 4 news led on this story tonight, and they seemed quite excited by it all.

There are echo's of the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon leak debacle by the sound of it, but it's a big gas leak rather than oil.

Seems like the french company TOTAL were using a fairly new drilling system, which involves very high temperatures and pressures, which will make the leak much harder to stem.

The flare on top of the platform is still burning and the only reason the whole thing hasn't exploded is thankfully the wind is blowing in the right direction. :o (why can't they just shut this off?)

The Beeb seem to be playing it down, from their website : BBC story

"The operator of a North Sea platform which is leaking gas has said there is no immediate danger of ignition.

Oil company Total said the escaped gas is at a lower height than a flare which is still alight on the installation.

Earlier, it revealed it could take six months to drill a relief well to stop the gas leak on its Elgin platform in the North Sea."

Anyone with any knowledge of this know what the hell's going on?

Edited by kev-all-in
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Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!---An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,

And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

Just a tiny gas leak. I mean they never cause explosions on land do they.

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Anyone with any knowledge of this know what the hell's going on?

Yes nothing is going on as no-one knows what to do. They (Total and % partners listed below from the DECC website) hope it will depressurise by itself but that is unlikely. There will also be lots of people running around looking really busy doing nothing. Not wanting to sound too cynical but loads of people have their egos massaged when something like this happens.

BG INTERNATIONAL (CNS) LIMITED 14.11

CHEVRON NORTH SEA LIMITED 3.90

DYAS UK LIMITED 2.19

E. F. OIL AND GAS LIMITED 46.17

ELF EXPLORATION UK LIMITED 0.00

ENI ELGIN/FRANKLIN LIMITED 21.87

E.ON E&P UK LIMITED 5.20

ESSO EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION UK LIMITED 4.37

SUMMIT PETROLEUM LIMITED 2.19

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Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!---An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,

And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

Dulce et Decorum est

Pro Total mori

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There isn't much they actually CAN do unless someone is willing to walk back on the rig.

Given that the FLARE is still lit, eventually it is going to go BOOM.

I'd be interested to see potential impact on North Sea gas production if this gets worse?

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Seems a tough one to solve as there's a high risk of explosion.

On the BBC news article I saw a relief well was going to take around 6 months. Or they could pump mud in, but then I'm guessing someone is going to have to get very close.

It seemed the best hope was that it would just stop itself, which it probably will when all the gas has escaped....

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On the BBC news article I saw a relief well was going to take around 6 months. Or they could pump mud in, but then I'm guessing someone is going to have to get very close.
Dibs not me. Help yourself though, you'll have about a 20% chance of survival.
It seemed the best hope was that it would just stop itself, which it probably will when all the gas has escaped....
Which given that they were drilling for gas, may take a while.

With hindsight, they should have LIT the escaping gas before the cloud became so big.

Now when it does go up it will take half the nearby rigs with it.

As I understand it, this could basically be a giant fuel-air bomb... what's known as a thermobaric weapon. The biggest non-nuclear explosive devices in the world. If this gets out of hand it could level half of Scotland. Not that you'de notice.

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As I understand it, this could basically be a giant fuel-air bomb... what's known as a thermobaric weapon. The biggest non-nuclear explosive devices in the world. If this gets out of hand it could level half of Scotland. Not that you'de notice.

A huge shock wave rippling out how far?

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As I understand it, this could basically be a giant fuel-air bomb... what's known as a thermobaric weapon. The biggest non-nuclear explosive devices in the world. If this gets out of hand it could level half of Scotland. Not that you'de notice.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=bec_1189583369

Some tiny examples here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermobaric_weapon

If you are caught on the edge of one it doesn't sound a pleasant way to die.

Can the gas cloud be dispersed by chemicals to allow the escaping gas to be lit in a controlled manner?

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Its definately serious, its pretty unheard off totally down manning and there was obviously a serious concern about escalation given the speed of the abandonment.

Its not possible to remotely extinguish a flare, they are a primary safety feature designed as a means of depressurising and dispersing a platform gas inventory in a controlled manner.

Assuming that the well fluids to the topside process were isolated during the shutdown then once the inventory has depleted the flare will go out itself. However this is assuming that at least some valves in the the stream from the reservoir are effective.

High pressure/High temperature wells are not new, it was the new frontier 10-15 years ago.

Reports are contraditory, some seem to say the leakage is external to the well conductor and to the sea with others saying it is within the conductor itself which is a large diameter, typically 30" pipe/pile, driven then cemented into the seabed. The well is then drilled through the conductor with smaller and smaller diameter casing each cemented in before the well tubular and completion are installed.

If the reports are correct it would appear that its not a failure of the completion but rather a failure of one of the annulus between the casing and the conductor or between casings.

In either case it may bleed off, if its a shallower pocket (as indicated in a couple of articles) or a relief well will be required, which could take months to drill assuming rig availability.

Hi, I can't find a thread about this, but apologies if I missed one. and I know it's not strictly HPC related, but could it potentially have a big affect on our fagile economy?? (mods feel free to move / merge)

Channel 4 news led on this story tonight, and they seemed quite excited by it all.

There are echo's of the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon leak debacle by the sound of it, but it's a big gas leak rather than oil.

Seems like the french company TOTAL were using a fairly new drilling system, which involves very high temperatures and pressures, which will make the leak much harder to stem.

The flare on top of the platform is still burning and the only reason the whole thing hasn't exploded is thankfully the wind is blowing in the right direction. :o (why can't they just shut this off?)

The Beeb seem to be playing it down, from their website : BBC story

"The operator of a North Sea platform which is leaking gas has said there is no immediate danger of ignition.

Oil company Total said the escaped gas is at a lower height than a flare which is still alight on the installation.

Earlier, it revealed it could take six months to drill a relief well to stop the gas leak on its Elgin platform in the North Sea."

Anyone with any knowledge of this know what the hell's going on?

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Can the gas cloud be dispersed by chemicals to allow the escaping gas to be lit in a controlled manner?

No there isn't a way AFAIK to chemically react the gas in open air. Chemical treatment of gas required it to be piped through filters/reactants etc.

I'm actually totally mystified as to what they can actually do. If the rate of leakage stay the same I expect even drilling a relief well will be impossible as you wont be able to get close enough to do it.

The longer they wait the worse the problem gets.

I'll bet at some point in the future people will come forward and admit they should have lit the gas and burnt it off as soon as it happened. They were more worried about saving the well/platform than the possible wider scale impact.

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A huge shock wave rippling out how far?

Well given that the cloud itself is of unknown size, but that "A sheen of between two and 23 tonnes of gas condensate, measuring six nautical miles in length, has been reported on the water nearby." it sounds like no-one knows how bad it is, or, no-one wants to admit it. There is a 2 mile sea exclusion zone and a 3 mile air exclusion zone, but no-one knows it that would be enough.

With a big enough cloud the explosion could cause massive damage at sea... it's only 150 miles off shore and there are 3 other platforms in the immediate area. The only plus point is with it being open sea any explosion will expand in all direction uncontained, spreading out the blast.

Blast damage is always worse when contained as blast waves bounce of solid objects.

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Its definately serious, its pretty unheard off totally down manning and there was obviously a serious concern about escalation given the speed of the abandonment.

Its not possible to remotely extinguish a flare, they are a primary safety feature designed as a means of depressurising and dispersing a platform gas inventory in a controlled manner.

Assuming that the well fluids to the topside process were isolated during the shutdown then once the inventory has depleted the flare will go out itself. However this is assuming that at least some valves in the the stream from the reservoir are effective.

High pressure/High temperature wells are not new, it was the new frontier 10-15 years ago.

Reports are contraditory, some seem to say the leakage is external to the well conductor and to the sea with others saying it is within the conductor itself which is a large diameter, typically 30" pipe/pile, driven then cemented into the seabed. The well is then drilled through the conductor with smaller and smaller diameter casing each cemented in before the well tubular and completion are installed.

If the reports are correct it would appear that its not a failure of the completion but rather a failure of one of the annulus between the casing and the conductor or between casings.

In either case it may bleed off, if its a shallower pocket (as indicated in a couple of articles) or a relief well will be required, which could take months to drill assuming rig availability.

thanks for the reply.

Sounds like it's got the potential to be an expensive nightmare! I noticed TOTAL's share price took quite a dive yesterday.

Don't these gas fields contribute a fair chunk of our energy production in the GDP figures? Any idea how much of the north sea production that is / will be affected by this mess?

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Problem out there is that these wells are operating at much higher pressures than is typical in the North Sea, say 800 bar and up. I know the topside stuff but not sure how things work when you inject gas into the seabed at that pressure, and just how long it will take to be able to tap in another well for stress relief.

However, this does present a HUGE opportunity for the right services contractor to go clean up Totals complete F-up here.

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No there isn't a way AFAIK to chemically react the gas in open air. Chemical treatment of gas required it to be piped through filters/reactants etc.

I'm actually totally mystified as to what they can actually do. If the rate of leakage stay the same I expect even drilling a relief well will be impossible as you wont be able to get close enough to do it.

The longer they wait the worse the problem gets.

I'll bet at some point in the future people will come forward and admit they should have lit the gas and burnt it off as soon as it happened. They were more worried about saving the well/platform than the possible wider scale impact.

So we could all hear a loud bang at some point?

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  • 1 month later...

Dibs not me. Help yourself though, you'll have about a 20% chance of survival.

Which given that they were drilling for gas, may take a while.

With hindsight, they should have LIT the escaping gas before the cloud became so big.

Now when it does go up it will take half the nearby rigs with it.

As I understand it, this could basically be a giant fuel-air bomb... what's known as a thermobaric weapon. The biggest non-nuclear explosive devices in the world. If this gets out of hand it could level half of Scotland. Not that you'de notice.

No.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-18142972

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As I understand it, this could basically be a giant fuel-air bomb... what's known as a thermobaric weapon. The biggest non-nuclear explosive devices in the world. If this gets out of hand it could level half of Scotland. Not that you'de notice.

Excellent. I need my dose of doom. 2011 we had Fukushima, 2010 Deepwater horizon, 2009 the H1N1 or bird flu or something.

2012 has been so dull.

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