Bloomberg News

Total Makes ‘Firm Plans’ for Elgin Relief Wells to Stem Gas Leak

April 02, 2012

Total SA (FP), Europe’s third-largest oil company, is making “firm plans” for two relief wells to stem a natural-gas leak at its Elgin platform in the U.K. North Sea.

Total is preparing to drill two wells to intersect the original shaft and curtail the flow of fuel. The company is also assessing whether it’s safe to return workers to the platform to pump mud down the leaking well in an attempt to cut off the gas, Brian O’Neill, a spokesman, said today by telephone.

Gas has been escaping from an abandoned well, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) east of Aberdeen, Scotland, since March 25. While the cause is still being investigated, Total said March 30 the fuel is probably leaking above water and the source is a rock formation above the producing reservoir of the field.

“We are making firm plans to drill two relief wells,” O’Neill said from Aberdeen. “If for whatever reason the leak can be brought under control before he wells are finished, the decision may be revisited.”

About 200,000 cubic meters of gas a day are being released from the well, according to estimates from the company. A flare on the platform, left burning when the site was evacuated, extinguished itself on March 31, O’Neill said. The flare had prompted concern that a change in wind direction may blow the cloud of flammable gas back toward the flame.

Total said last week that a relief well may take six months to drill. The company will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. Paris time today, it said in a website statement.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Swint in London at bswint@bloomberg.net; Ben Farey in London at bfarey@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net.


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