Elgin Incident: Gas Leak Rate Decreases
French oil and gas company Total today announced that the two technical solutions to stop the gas leak on well G4 of the Elgin platform are progressing according to plan. As announced, drilling of the G4 relief well (G4-K1) commenced while in parallel experts continued with key tasks in preparation for the well control operation to stop the leak on the Elgin platform.
The Sedco 714 drilling rig spudded the relief well on April 18 to be used as a back-up option to the G4 well control operation. The Sedco 714 well site is located approximately 2 kilometres east of the Elgin complex in water depths of around 90 meters. The drilling began following the granting of all necessary approvals by the UK authorities.
Another drilling rig, the Rowan Gorilla V, is suspending operations on the nearby West Franklin field and will be available to be deployed by early-May.
In parallel, plans are being finalized for the positioning of the pumping vessel required for the well intervention alongside the Elgin complex. The West Phoenix is currently on standby just outside the two nautical mile Elgin exclusion zone. Total has also mobilised the intervention vessel Skandi Aker, currently in the Scottish port of Peterhead, which will also be used to support the well intervention operation.
Two helicopter trips were made this week to the Elgin platform during which Total and Wild Well Control teams were able to confirm that the Elgin PUQ provides a safe base from which to support the G4 well control operations. They also continued with work to lay out equipment and ensure that the platform systems required to support the intervention are functional.
The latest scientific flights, modelling and platform visits this week confirm a decrease in the gas leak rate, to around one third of the initial estimate of approximately 200,000 m3/day made in the first days of the Elgin gas leak.
Separately, Scottish authorities said chemical testing of water and sediment samples gathered two miles from the Elgin platform indicate there has been no direct marine contamination from the G4 leak.
April 20, 2012; Image: Total