Total ‘Well Kill’ Begins

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 @ 09:05 AM gHale

Total started pumping heavy mud down its leaking well in the North Sea today in an attempt to stop an eight-week-old gas leak and could deprive Britain of nearly 6% of its supply this summer.

“The well intervention operation got underway at 8:20a.m. with the pumping of heavy mud into the well from the main support vessel,” Total said.

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The work, at the Elgin platform, 240 km off the coast of Scotland, should last several days before engineers can determine whether they stopped the leak, Total said.

The leak is costing the company around $2.9 million (£1.8 million) a day in relief operations and lost net income.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change, which gave the go-ahead for the “well kill” work earlier this month, said it was monitoring the situation closely.

The company said last week the amount of gas leaking from the platform shrank from a quarter of the original quantity and that parallel work to drill a relief well continued.

Meanwhile, a nearby gas field run by Royal Dutch Shell had to close, initially as a precaution and now for maintenance. Other operations on smaller fields have also felt the affect of the leak.

The total loss in gas production from Elgin and nearby fields could cut British gas production by as much as 6% this summer, Britain’s energy network operator warned.

Environmental impact from the leak appears to have been small, according to the Scottish government, with fish and water samples from just outside a two-mile exclusion zone around the platform have not shown any signs of hydrocarbon contamination.

Total said there was potential for production at Elgin to gradually restart later this year.

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