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Total green-lights plan to kill Elgin gas leak

10 April 2012

French oil major Total said it will go ahead with a plan to kill the gas leak at its Elgin platform in the North Sea by pumping mud into the well, after a reconnaissance team found that conditions were safe enough to allow the operation. Pumping should start by mid-April.

A Greenpeace image of the gas cloud surrounding the Elgin platform
A Greenpeace image of the gas cloud surrounding the Elgin platform

"The reconnaissance mission to the Elgin complex by a team of Total experts and specialist contractors has confirmed that planning for a well intervention operation to bring the leaking G4 well under control can continue as planned," Total said in a statement on April 6.

The leak is venting an estimated 200,000 cubic metres of natural gas into the air per day, forming a highly explosive cloud around the platform. Workers on the platform were evacuated when the leak was first reported on March 25.

The reconnaissance team of experts was flown in by helicopter and found no presence of gas on the main platform, which houses workers' living quarters, and no gas on the 90-metre bridge that connects to the production platform, where the wellhead has been leaking.

The structural condition of the platform was found to be unchanged since the complex was evacuated, Total added. The team of experts will now give Total management a detailed debriefing, enabling them to further develop plans for the well intervention.

The French company, meanwhile, is still planning to carry out a parallel operation of drilling of two relief wells, an option that could take up to six months. Total has said the leak is costing it $2.5 million a day so far.

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