Nine North Sea gas platforms were shut down for a month by health and safety chiefs following a major gas scare, it has emerged.
The Health and Safety Executive has confirmed ConocoPhillips was served with a prohibition notice – which bans all work – following a “major gas release” at the LOGGS complex.
The neighbouring Viking platforms also had to be shut-in after the incident – but the energy firm is refusing to reveal how much gas escaped.
Details of the alert have only just been made public by the HSE, and last night a leading trade unionist said he feared information had been kept quiet. Jake Molloy, of the RMT union, said: “All we know was that it was a major gas leak, but that information was being suppressed.
“I know it was a big event. The only information we were given was an e-mail from a member saying that there was a leak and that they (Conoco-Phillips) were trying to keep it quiet.”
LOGGS – in the southern North Sea – consists of five bridge-linked platforms, while the neighbouring Viking B complex has four. The HSE said the incident “placed personnel at risk”.
A spokeswoman for ConocoPhillips confirmed details of the incident yesterday.
She said: “Production from the LOGGS and Viking platforms in the UK Southern North Sea was shut-in at the end of last year following a gas release on the LOGGS (Lincolnshire Offshore Gas Gathering System) complex on Friday, November 30. There were no injuries to personnel. Conoco-Phillips worked closely with the HSE following the release and completed the necessary actions to ensure the continued safety and integrity of the installation and its personnel.
“Production was subsequently re-started at the end of December.”
The company rejected the suggestion that it had tried to cover the incident up.
“ConocoPhillips worked openly and closely with the HSE following the release and completed all the necessary actions to ensure the continued safety and integrity of the installation and our personnel,” the spokeswoman said.