A suspected gas leak on the Nexen Petroleum UK operated Scott platform in the North Sea commenced a mass evacuation of 138 offshore workers to nearby installations yesterday. All non-essential personnel on board were airlifted to safety by helicopter after gas was detected at around 11.20am on board the installation located 117 miles north-east of Aberdeen in the outer Moray Firth.
A company spokesman said the evacuation was carried out as a precaution and all employees were expected to be back on board by the end of the night. He also stated the platform was free from gas by 8pm. Health and Safety Executive inspectors were standing by to fly to the platform to begin enquiries into the incident.
A Nexen spokesman said: "The urgency of the operation was restricted by the fact there was no fire or explosion and no immediate danger to personnel." Production on board the platform was shut down. It is not known how long it will remain out of operation. "The inspectors will be conducting an offshore investigation but at the moment we are waiting until the situation has stabilised."
The Scott is understood to be a double-jacket platform which means its working and residential modules are separated to reduce the risk of personnel being injured should a fire or explosion occur. The safety feature was introduced in the wake of the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988, prior to which sleeping and recreational quarters were located adjacent to the working part of the platform where the flammable chemicals are processed.