Analysis of the water samples collected around the Elgin platform

Total E&P UK has developed a sampling strategy which is aligned to recognised approaches detailed by the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCGA) and Bonn Agreement Counter Pollution Manual. The strategy and instructions have been passed on to relevant standby vessels, co-ordinates on where to take samples are provided based on findings from aerial surveillance flights to ensure the densest patches of sheen are sampled. Samples are being taken daily, in such a way as to concentrate the oil fraction in the sample by skimming the oil from the water surface.

All samples are sent for analysis by an independent specialist laboratory and analysis reports are also being sent to DECC.

Analyses undertaken:

- FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy),
- EDAX (Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy) and
- GC fingerprint analyses

The findings from sample analyses undertaken so far are similar.


Results from the sample analysis of March 28th :

FT-IR Analysis
• The liquid portion is predominantly water based with a small amount of aliphatic groups.
• The brown emulsion portion consists of aliphatic groups and carbonyl groups.

Gas Chromatography Fingerprint Analysis
• The hydrocarbons in the water samples are likely to be lightly weathered condensate.


Condensate is very light oil, like gasoline, that evaporates and is quickly dispersed in the water. It is not soluble in water. Since it is very light the thickness of the resulting sheen is approximately a 1/10th of a micron (0.0001 mm), not continuous, dispersed and very easily bio-degraded. Therefore its impact on the environment is quite limited.


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