Total gets green light to reopen North Sea gas rig

British authorities on Wednesday gave French energy giant Total permission to reopen a North Sea platform that was struck by a gas leak a year ago at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Elgin platform, 240 kilometres (150 miles) off Aberdeen on Scotland's east coast, was evacuated in March 2011 after highly flammable gas began leaking from the seabed, threatening a major explosion.

Britain's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said on Wednesday that it had accepted Total's claims that the rig was now safe to reopen after the company plugged the leak last May.

"It will now be for Total to decide when to restart operations," a spokesman said.

In Paris, a Total spokesman declined to specify when the platform would reopen.

The company had pumped heavy mud into the rig's stricken G4 well for 12 hours on May 15 to stop the flow of gas, which was leaking at a rate of up to 200,000 cubic metres per day.

A study by Scotland's devolved government found in April that the accident did not cause any significant damage to the marine environment however.