Some updates on the ongoing crisis on Total's leaking natural gas rig in the North Sea:
Area of Sea Covered By Slick Much Larger Than Admitted
SkyTruth has shared a satellite image (the one above), taken on the 27th, showing that a slick resulting from the Total rig's leak actually covered about 89 square kilometers of ocean. Total said that the slick was just 4.8 square kilometers in size.
Now this really gives you a sense of the extreme conditions in which this drilling is happening: The Guardian reports that Total has said it believes it has found the source of the leak, a gas pocket in a rock formation 4 kilometers below the sea bed, and 1 km above the actual gas reservoir that the rig was tapping.
Total says that, contrary to some concerns, that the gas is not coming to the surface from the seabed itself, but rather from the deck level of the rig. Total also says the rate of gas flow is not increasing.
In preparation for any potential ignition of the gas cloud surrounding the scene, where should the winds shift could be ignited by the gas still flaring on the rig, fire fighting ships have been moved to the edge of the two nautical mile exclusion zone.
How to Stop the Leak?
Reuters sums up the options for stopping the leak, one faster but riskier, one safer but far, far slower.
The fast option would be pumping heavy mud into the well from the platform itself. The slow option, which could take six months to complete, is drilling a relief well, which would have to hit the gas pocket exactly, after traveling though 4 kilometers of rock.