Total Expects Legal Action over 2012 North Sea Gas Leak

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French oil and gas major Total expects UK authorities to launch legal proceedings against it over the Elgin gas leak in spring 2012.


PARIS, March 16 (Reuters) – French energy group Total said on Sunday it expected British authorities to launch legal proceedings against it over a major gas leak at a North Sea oil rig in 2012.

Total's Elgin platform, located around 240 km (150 miles) off Scotland's east coast, spewed gas for more than seven weeks from March 25, 2012 and its one-year shutdown cost the company millions of euros in lost output.

Britain's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the energy ministry submitted a series of reports on the incident to Scottish public prosecutors on Friday. The HSE said the documents would not be made public until the prosecutor had made a decision on any action that might be taken.

But Total said the papers pointed towards a prosecution.

"The report recommends proceedings are taken against the company for breaches of the Health & Safety at Work Act and the Offshore Installations and Wells Regulations," a spokesman for Total UK said in a statement.

The Elgin gas leak showed the dangers of oil and gas extraction from high-pressure, high-temperature wells.

Industry experts fear that corrosive fluids implicated in the Elgin leak could cause problems at other similar sites as operators venture into deeper waters in the North Sea in a bid to counter declining output from conventional fields.



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