Following confirmation on Saturday morning (31 March) that the flare on the Elgin Platform has extinguished itself, Total is actively preparing operations to regain control of the leaking well.
With respect to stopping the leak, Total has launched two main actions which are progressing in parallel.
– The first action plan is to carry out the well control operation using a floating support vessel and pumping mud into the well. This solution would require reboarding the platform. The Group is working in cooperation with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to agree conditions under which regaining access to the Elgin platform can be undertaken safely.
Once the platform is accessed, advanced preparations for controlling the well can proceed. Total has identified and is sourcing the necessary support vessels required to facilitate the operation. Two suitable vessels have been chartered, one boat and one rig. Each of the vessels identified has special dynamic positioning capability, making them most suitable for the operation planned.
– The second action plan relates to drilling a relief well and a backup relief well. Total has already mobilised two rigs to drill these wells; both will move to Elgin on final suspension of current operations. The first is the Sedco 714, currently drilling on the Fettercairn field 400kms to the North of Elgin. The second, the Rowan Gorilla V, is currently drilling on the West Franklin field just 6kms from Elgin. To maintain the widest possible range of options, other drilling rigs are also being considered.
Two other key vessels are also standing by on location. One is an ROV (Remote Operate Vehicle) deployment vessel to carry out underwater inspections in the location of the Elgin platform; a second similar vessel is on standby to conduct seabed surveys of possible locations for relief wells. Both vessels are currently awaiting optimum sea conditions before they can be deployed.
Reconnaissance and monitoring of the site by aircraft and fire fighting vessels continues.
Source: Total, April 3, 2012