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Leak 'losing million pounds a day'

A gas leak on an offshore platform in the North Sea is costing its operators almost a million pounds a day in lost production.

Oil and gas company Total said it is "losing" an estimated £940,000 a day because of the leak on the Elgin PUQ platform, about 150 miles off the coast of Aberdeen.

The figure was confirmed following a Total press conference.

About 200,000 cubic metres of gas are escaping from the platform each day, coming out from a rock formation below the sea. It is then escaping into the air from a leak on the platform at the top of the well, about 80 feet above sea level.

Experts could board the platform within a couple of days to assess how to stop the leak. Total said it is "actively preparing" operations to regain control of the well.

The leak forced the platform's evacuation, removing all 238 workers, when it was discovered on March 25.

One option for dealing with the problem is pumping mud into the well, which would need people to re-board the platform.

Total said it is in talks with the Health and Safety Executive about how this can be done safely and that it hopes outside specialists from Wild Well Control could board the platform, accompanied by Total personnel, within a couple of days.

The other option is to drill a relief well and a back-up relief well but this could take months.

Total, which is headquartered in France, has already mobilised two rigs to drill the relief wells and said both will move to the site when they finish their current operations.

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