Total dismissed gas fears hours before rig leak -union

LONDON/PARIS, (Reuters) – Total repeatedly assured workers on its North Sea Elgin platform that a leak was impossible until just hours before evacuating them as potentially explosive gas spread, a senior union official said yesterday. French energy company Total, the platform’s operator, said it had detected the first signs of trouble a month before Sunday’s leak erupted as pressure rose in a well that had been capped a year earlier.

Safety concerns among the 238 workers aboard were then raised but repeatedly ignored, union representative Jake Molloy told Reuters.

“The workforce were repeatedly told that a failure in Annulus C (the pipe casing) could not happen and even if it did, a design feature would prevent a gas leak,” Molloy, head of the RMT union’s offshore oil and gas workers section, said. “Several discussions between workers and Total technical authorities happened throughout the preceding weeks, up to and including a few hours before the event,” he said.

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