OIL giant Total has finally resumed production on its Elgin platform, a year after a shutdown caused by an uncontrolled gas leak on the installation.
The platform, 150 miles east of Aberdeen, had to be abandoned on 25 March last year when the leak of potentially explosive gas and condensate first began.
At its height, the well was spewing gas into the atmosphere at the rate of seven million cubic feet per day, costing Total up to £248 million in lost production. A mud-pumping operation finally stopped the leak on 16 May last year.
The French oil giant announced today that production on the platform had resumed on Saturday and should soon reach close to 70,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day - 50 per cent of its production potential.
A spokesman for the company said that Total was also investigating the possibility of drilling a number of new wells at the complex to reach the production levels which existed before the gas leak on the platform.
Yves-Louis Darricarrère, president of exploration and production at Total, said: “Managing this industrial incident securely for our personnel and with limited impact on the environment was our priority. 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.”
He added: “Lessons learned have been shared with the UK authorities and will also be shared with the wider industry. We now focus on continuing our development plans to bring back the full potential from the fields as soon as possible.”
A company spokesman said that investigations had concluded that the gas leak was caused by “a combination of several unprecedented events” on a well, known as G4, which had been shut in several months before the gas leak on the platform.
He continued: “A thorough investigation led by Total revealed that the leak was caused by a type of stress corrosion which was unique to the G4 well and was fed from a so far non-producing chalk layer located approximately 1000 metres above the original reservoir.”
Elgin iS one of the North Sea’s biggest producing natural gas fields and produced about 130,000 boe per day in 2011 before the leak. The shutdown affected about seven per cent of of the UK’s total gas output last year.