Second leak shuts down oil platform

Workers have been evacuated from a North Sea oil platform after a second oil leak was discovered.

At least six other installations halted production on Saturday after a leak was discovered in one of the legs of the Cormorant Alpha structure.

The leak also forced the closure of the Brent pipeline system for the second time in seven weeks.

The network, which pumps almost 10% of Britain’s oil to Sullom Voe in Shetland, was shut down on January 15 after a leak was found in the same leg of the Taqa-owned and operated Cormorant Alpha.

The pipeline handles about 80,000 barrels a day, worth about £6million.

A spokesman for the Abu Dhabi-based energy giant confirmed that a hydrocarbon release had been detected in one of the Cormorant Alpha’s legs, but said all staff were safe and no oil had been released into the sea.

He said: “It has now been contained, with no further hydrocarbon release.

“The release remained within the platform leg and no hydrocarbons entered the environment. The company has removed 71 non-essential personnel from the platform on crew-change flights.

“Taqa personnel are addressing the situation on Cormorant Alpha and are working with partners to have the Brent pipeline system operational as soon as possible.”

The leak was discovered at 9.40am on Saturday during routine maintenance.

The spokesman said 74 staff remained on the installation, which is 232 miles from Peterhead and 94 miles from Lerwick.

Production was also shut down at the Taqa-operated Tern, Eider and North Cormorant platforms on Saturday, as well as the EnQuest-operated Thistle and Northern Producer installations.

The Total-operated North Alwyn was also forced to stop exporting gas to the St Fergus gas terminal north of Peterhead as a result of the shutdown.

It remained unclear whether operations were affected at the Dunlin and Murchison platforms – which also feed oil into the Cormorant Alpha.

The Brent pipeline system carries oil from 27 North Sea fields.

Environmentalists voiced concerns following the incident.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “While it’s a relief to hear staff are safe and the leak has been contained, serious questions must be asked about the integrity of this ageing rig.”

Workers have been evacuated from a North Sea oil platform after a second oil leak was discovered.

At least six other installations halted production on Saturday after a leak was discovered in one of the legs of the Cormorant Alpha structure.

The leak also forced the closure of the Brent pipeline system for the second time in seven weeks.

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