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Dramatic gas effusion at Snorre A

Gas is still oozing out at the Snorre A field during the morning hours Monday as the 36 remaining workers are struggling to get control over the situation.

A total of 180 workers have been evacuated and the remaining 36 people on board are now working to get control over the leak, something which make take months.

«The situation is still serious,» said Kristofer Hetland, head of information at Statoil, to TV 2 Nettavisen, at 6 a.m. local time Monday. «We are working with pumping drilling fluid up from the well and by doing so we are trying to stop the gas leakage we have in one pipe.»

«We have evacuated 180 persons, and there are now 36 persons left who work on the platform,» Hetland said. «This is the personnel which is required to handle the well operation and to maintain the necessary preparedness on board.»

All production is stopped.

Inger Anda, press officer at the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway, describes the situation at Snorre A as dramatic when TV 2 Nettavisen called at about 7:30 a.m. Monday.

«The situation is very unfortunate and dramatic,» Anda stated. «We do not have the situation under control.»

She described the repair work as difficult because of the amount of gas in the area.

«The caulking may take a long time,» Anda said to TV 2 Nettavisen. «The work may be done in no time at all, but it make also take months.»

Anda explained that a remote controlled submarine Sunday night was sent down to the sea floor in order to locate where the leakage occurred, but the attempt failed.

«There is so much gas in the area that it is impossible to enter the area with a craft, and that is why we have not yet succeeded with the submarine attempt,» Anda explained.

Gas bobbles in the seas
The gas effusion was discovered just after 7 p.m. Sunday, and the alarm was sounded. At 8:45 p.m. the evacuation started. A total of 141 persons were flown to safety at platforms in the area. A total of 40 persons were evacuated during the night.

The reason for the gas leak was still not known Monday morning.

«The worst thing that can happen is that we get a so-called blowout, when the well is out of control and the gas is uncontrollably flowing from the well,» Anda said. «We are not there yet, but this is what we fear most of all.»

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