New oil disaster looms in North Sea

Ninety oil workers have been evacuated from a North Sea rig as engineers fight to control a huge build-up of pressure in a well that may have the potential to blow up the platform. Norwegian company Statoil partly evacuated the Gullfaks oil rig off on May 20 following unexpected fluctuations in pressure. The company said all 89 non-essential workers were taken off the rig as a precaution, while the other remained to try to normalize pressure. Pressure levels remain unstable a week later. Workers are pumping cement into the well in an operation similar to that being attempted by BP in the Gulf of Mexico.

Norway‘s regulatory authority says this is the third well-control incident on Gullfaks in the past six months. Jake Molloy, an offshore organizer with Britain’s National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), said the case highlights the continuing dangers of oil extraction in the North Sea. He added: “The huge gas bubble under the Gullfaks has the potential to threaten the platform.” (The Guardian, Deutsche-Welle, May 27)

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