French supermajor Total said an important progress in stopping the leak on the G4 well on the Elgin complex was made on May 4 when the semi-submersible drilling rig, the West Phoenix, moved within the current exclusion zone ready to position itself directly alongside the complex.
The dynamically positioned rig will be the main support vessel during the forthcoming well intervention operation and will be used to pump heavy mud into the G4 well in order to stop the leak. Total is on track to begin the intended well intervention operation within the coming days, subject to continuing favourable weather.
Improved weather and the fitting of the ‘diverter’ to the leaking G4 wellhead last week enabled 8 additional flights to Elgin by teams of experts from Total and specialist contractors.
Visits to Elgin this week have focused primarily on completing the installation of the temporary pipe system on the Production Utilities Quarters (PUQ) platform, linking bridge and wellhead platform. It will be used to carry and pump heavy mud from the West Phoenix.
The specially designed diverter had a beneficial effect on essential preparatory works on the platform. By safely redirecting leaking gas and condensates away from the platform, more helicopter flights to Elgin have been possible. In parallel, drilling of the first back-up relief well by the Sedco 714 is still progressing according to plan.
The company has received environmental permits from the Department of Energy and climate change to undertake the operations needed to stop the leak.
A DECC spokesman said: “The Government and TOTAL have been working hard to ensure the Elgin gas release is dealt with as quickly and as safely as possible with minimal impact on the environment.
“The dynamic kill operation is a major step for TOTAL and offers the quickest way to stop the release from the well. In parallel, work is underway to drill a relief well as an alternative solution. We continue to monitor the situation closely.”
Total on March 25 reported that a gas leak following a well operation occurred at the wellhead platform on the Elgin gas field in the UK North Sea approximately 240 km east of Aberdeen. The leak forced Total to evacuate all the workers from the Elgin complex. The gas has been spewing into atmosphere ever since.
Elgin and Franklin are two high pressure/high temperature gas and condensate fields, which started production in 2001. They are located in the British North Sea, approximately 240 kilometers east of Aberdeen, in Scotland. The Elgin field was discovered in 1991 and the Franklin field in 1986.
Total operates these fields through its wholly owned affiliate Elgin Franklin Oil & Gas (EFOG) and increased its stake to 46.17% in late 2011. The Group’s equity share of production from the three fields averaged about 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2011.
Offshore Energy Today Staff, May 7, 2012;Image/Video: Total