Total: Flow from Elgin Leak Decreases

Total's Elgin Relief Well May Take More Than 6 Months

PARIS - French oil major Total SA on Friday said a remote-controlled submarine confirmed that no natural gas is leaking underwater at its Elgin rig in the North Sea and that observations showed the flow of the gas leak on the rig's deck is decreasing.

The submarine, which was launched from a ship sailing near the platform, confirmed there is no underwater leak as Total had originally said and observations from the ships suggest the gas flow from the leak seems to be decreasing, Total said Friday in a statement.

Separately, a crew of Total engineers and specialists from Wild Well Control Inc.--the company that helped to tackle the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and Kuwait's raging oil fires--went to the rig on Thursday to evaluate the possibility of launching an operation to kill the well through heavy-mud pumping.

The crew issued an encouraging report, Total said. "We achieved our goals. Everything went as we would have hoped and the planned well intervention is achievable. There is certainly no showstopper to launch the well control operation," Wild Well said, according to a Total statement released Friday.

The specialists said they didn't find gas present on the Elgin Process, Utilities, Quarters, or PUQ, platform, which is connected by a 90-meter bridge to the wellhead rig. They also identified infrastructure on the well-head rig that would allow an operation to kill the well through heavy-mud pumping.

Total evacuated and powered off the Elgin rig on March 25 after a sudden rush of pressure in a volatile well sent gas and mud spewing out from the drilling deck. Since then, operations at the rig, as well as at other ones operated by Total in the area in the North Sea, have been halted.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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