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North Sea Gas Leak Can Be Plugged, Say Experts

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The Elgin platform was evacuated nearly two weeks ago
The Elgin platform was evacuated nearly two weeks ago

Plans to "kill" a gas leak on an offshore platform by pumping mud into it can go ahead, experts have said.

A team from operators Total and Wild Well Control flew out on Thursday to inspect the leak on the Elgin platform about 150 miles off Aberdeen, gathering information that will help them decide how best to stop the leak.

It was the first time anyone had been back to the platform since the leak forced its evacuation nearly two weeks ago, the Press Association reported.

The experts said there was no "showstopper"for its "dynamic kill" plan to plug the platform well with mud.

The inspection confirmed gas was leaking from the well head but not from underwater. The team said well intervention plans could proceed as planned.

A spokesman for Wild Well Control said: "We achieved our goals. Everything went as we would have hoped and the planned well intervention is achievable.

"There is certainly no showstopper to launch the well control operation."

The team of specialists spent four hours on the installation gathering information that will help them decide how best to stop the leak.

They carried out a preliminary survey of the leak area, established zones which can be safely accessed and gathered data.

Three Total employees and five specialists from Wild Well Control, a specialised well intervention company, took off from Aberdeen at 10.30am and landed on the platform before safely returning to Aberdeen shortly before 5pm.

Plans are also still progressing for the drilling of a relief well, as well as a back-up relief well.

Meanwhile, an environmental impact assessment of the gas leak has also got under way.

The newly-established Environment Group, chaired by Marine Scotland, is to assess and monitor the impact of the leak.

Marine Research Vessel Alba na Mara began work collecting and analysing environmental samples on Friday.