TotalFina Elf Shuts In Wells Due to Gas Blowout

TotalFinaElf has begun efforts to stop the flow of natural gas and regain control of a well which erupted Friday afternoon during drilling operations in East Kalimantan, said company spokesman Ananda Idris. Friday, a gas blowout at TotalFinaElf's natural gas facilities in the southern part of the Tunu fields in Mahakam Delta resulted in a fire, which is still radiating "intense heat," Idris said Saturday. The incident has prompted the company to shut-in an additional seven production wells in surrounding areas as a safety precaution, said Idris.

He stressed that there will be a "limited loss" following the latest shut-in, and estimates the loss to be around 130 million cubic feet a day, or 5% of TotalFinaElf's production capacity. TotalFinaElf's gas production from Kalimantan stood at 2.4 billion cubic feet/day before the incident occurred.

TotalFinaElf confirmed that there were no casualties following the gas blowout, and personnel onboard a drilling rig were evacuated to safety. "Our team of specialists is scheduled to arrive in Balikpapan, near Tunu gas operations, Sunday," said Idris.

All required equipment including firefighting spread and intervention equipment have been mobilized to regain full control of the well, Idris added. The operator has also undertaken anti-pollution measures to ensure minimal impact on the environment. TotalFinaElf is the operator and a 50% stakeholder in the Mahakam production-sharing contract, or PSC. Japan's INPEX holds the remaining 50% stake.

TotalFinaElf's Mahakam PSC constitutes one of three main natural gas supply sources for Indonesia's largest liquefied natural gas production facility, Bontang Natural Gas Liquefaction Plant. Owned Pertamina, and operated by PT Badak NGL Co. Ltd., the Bontang plant has eight trains with a production capacity of 22.5 million tons of LNG annually. Buyers from Japan and Taiwan are term lifters of the Bontang LNG.