French oil major Total announced Friday afternoon that its drilling rig West Phoenix (UDW semisub) has moved within the current exclusion zone surrounding the Elgin platform, where a gas leak was discovered in late March.
The dynamically-positioned rig will be the main support vessel during the forthcoming well intervention operation and will be used to pump heavy mud into the G4 well in order to stop the leak. Total is on track to begin the operation within the coming days, subject to continuing favorable weather.
On Thursday, the UK's Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced that it had granted Total environmental permits to undertake a 'dynamic kill' operation to try and stop the gas release from the Elgin platform. Total shut down oil and gas production at Elgin and evacuated the platform when the leak was first discovered.
DECC said that it had carried out full environmental assessment of the operation and the UK's Health and Safety Executive has confirmed it has no objections to the plans.
"The government and Total have been working hard to ensure the Elgin gas release is dealt with as quickly and as safely as possible with minimal impact on the environment," a DECC spokesman said in a press statement.
"The dynamic kill operation is a major step for Total and offers the quickest way to stop the release from the well. In parallel, work is underway to drill a relief well as an alternative solution. We continue to monitor the situation closely."
In Friday's update on the situation at Elgin, Total said that improved weather and last week's fitting of a specially-designed diverter (pictured below), which redirects leaking gas and condensates away from the platform, had allowed helicopters to land more frequently on the platform. During the past week, eight additional flights to Elgin have been made by teams of experts from Total and specialist contractors.
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