Gas Hiccups at N Sea Elgin, Franklin Fields Seen to '06

LONDON Jul 20, 2005 (Dow Jones News via Comtex)

Interrupted gas output from Total SA's (TOT) Elgin and Franklin fields in the North Sea is likely to occur into early 2006 as it drills a tricky new well at its neighboring Glenelg field.

An industry source said gas flows from Elgin and Franklin were cut early Monday due to the drilling at Glenelg.

Further hiccups in production are likely until Total finishes drilling at the new field.

A Total spokesman said he expects this to end by early 2006.

"If you move a rig, you may have to shut down (the fields) for half a day," the source added.

The source said any production interruptions would likely last less than half a day, adding Total was trying to balance progress on the Glenelg drilling against output from Elgin and Franklin.

Total pumps about 15.5 million cubic meters of gas a day from the two fields.

A London-based gas broker said the Glenelg drilling sheds light on why the volume of gas in the U.K. network might have been short 7 million cubic meters at one point Tuesday, though he added sustained heavy buying from other North Sea producers was the primary reason for surging gas prompt prices.

Within-day gas prices jumped more than 6% on the day to 33.5 pence a therm in late trading Monday.

The Glenelg field, discovered in 1999, is a complex high-pressure, high-temperature gas reserve that is difficult to access.

The field is owned by Total in partnership with BG Group PLC (BRG), Eni SpA's (E) U.K. unit, Ruhrgas AG (RUH.YY) and Gaz de France (1020848.FR).

The field may produce around 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day once it is up and running.

Total began drilling at Glenelg at the start of this year and expects the well to reach a depth of 5,500 meters, similar to the Elgin and Franklin fields.

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