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Total’s Elgin North Sea gas platform resumes production

12 March 2013

Total says oil production from the Elgin and Franklin fields has restarted in the UK sector of the North Sea, almost a year after a large-scale gas and condensate leak halted all production from the Elgin platform. The Health and Safety Executive told Total it could restart production at the platform earlier in March.

The leak, which started on March 25 last year, took seven weeks to plug and at the height of the incident, about 200,000 cubic metres of gas was escaping every day, but the level reduced when workers drilled a relief well.

The field, in which Total has a 46% stake, will return to its pre-accident production level – 120,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day – in 2015 and is targeted to reach 130,000-140,000 boe per day in 2016, a higher level than had been forecast before the accident, Total said.

Production increases will be achieved by the development of two big projects: phase two of West Franklin and a revamp of Elgin, expected to be finalised this summer.

Some underwater Elgin wells have been abandoned in the wake of the leak and the company is planning to drill in new fields in the region to increase its production levels.

The leak cost Total around £1.6m a day in relief operations and lost income, with accumulated losses of around £83m.

The Elgin and Franklin fields, which started production in 2001, accounted for nearly 5% of UK output. The shutdown knocked 0.2% off the UK’s GDF in 2012.

Total said a "thorough investigation" had revealed that the leak was caused by a type of corrosion which was unique to the well.

Yves-Louis Darricarrère, president of Total Upstream, said: "The causes of the incident are now known and all necessary measures have been taken to enable us to resume production and carry out future exploitation of the fields from the Elgin/Franklin area in the best safety conditions."

"Lessons learnt have been shared with the UK authorities and will also be shared with the wider industry," he added. "We now focus on continuing our development plans to bring back the full potential from these fields the soonest possible.”

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