Total diverts North Sea gas leak from platform

Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:23pm EDT
 

LONDON (Reuters) - Gas is continuing to leak from Total's Elgin gas field in the UK North Sea but engineers have installed diverter equipment to lead the flow away from the production platform to make it safer to get on board to tackle the leak, the company said on Thursday.

"The fitting of this device ensures that there is no gas accumulating around the G4 wellhead or the platform, (which) reinforces the safety of the well intervention operation and helps alleviate restrictions on helicopter landings on the platform from now on," Total said in a statement.

The amount of gas streaming from below the platform located 240 kilometers off the coast of Aberdeen reduced by two thirds last week after workers started drilling a relief well.

The Elgin platform was evacuated on March 25, after workers detected gas leaking from a well which was closed last year, enveloping the site in a potentially explosive gas cloud.

Total is continuing work to drill a relief well around 2 kilometers away from the facility and workers are preparing the platform to start a so-called "well kill", which is a cheaper and faster option but also more risky as it involves pumping heavy mud into the well from the platform.

The gas leak is costing Total $2.5 million per day, the company said.

Britain could be facing as much as a 6 percent cut to gas supplies this summer due to the closure of the Elgin and two neighboring gas fields, National Grid said last week.

(Reporting by Karolin Schaps; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

 
The Elgin platform in the North Sea is seen in this undated photograph received in London on March 30, 2012. REUTERS/Total E&P/Handout