Total Stops Elgin Gas Leak
by Jon Mainwaring
|Wednesday, May 16, 2012
A day earlier, the French oil major announced that it had begun a well-intervention operation that involved the pumping of heavy mud into the leaking well. On Wednesday, the firm said that it took 12 hours to stop the leak.
The mud was pumped from Total's main support vessel – the West Phoenix (UDW semisub) drilling rig – via a temporary pipeline connected to the G4 wellhead.
The G4 wellhead had been leaking gas following an incident on March 25, which led to 238 people being evacuated from the Elgin platform and from an adjacent drilling rig: the Rowan Viking (430' ILC).
Last week, several flights over the area by Oil Spill Response found that the leakage rate of gas had diminished significantly from an estimated initial gas flow rate of around 2 kilograms per second to an estimated 0.5 kilograms per second.
Now that the leak appears to have been stopped completely, teams of experts from Total and specialist contractors employed by the company will closely monitor the G4 well in order to confirm the complete success of the intervention, said Total on Wednesday.
Commenting on the Elgin situation, Total President of Exploration and Production Yves-Louis Darricarrère said: "Today, a major turning point has been achieved. Our absolute priority was to stop the gas leak safely and as quickly as possible. Since March 25, we have been working closely with the authorities and we have communicated transparently and will continue to do so. We shall now fully complete the ongoing task and take into account the lessons learnt from this incident."
At lunchtime on Wednesday, Sir Robert Smith – a Member of Parliament for the Scottish Aberdeenshire and Kincardine constituency – commented: "This is a welcome development. There still remains the challenge of ensuring there is a permanent solution. It is clearly crucial that all lessons are learned to avoid a repeat of such an incident and that these lessons are shared with all other operators."
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