Total announced Monday that it restarted production on its Elgin/Franklin fields in the North Sea on March 9, almost a year after the major gas leak at the Elgin platform that forced the shutdown of the fields.
Rigzone reported Friday that Total intended to restart production within "a very few days" now that it had received approval of the safety case for restarted production from the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Monday saw the firm confirm that production is resuming "gradually" and should soon reach 70,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) – 50 percent of the production potential from the fields.
Total added that for Elgin/Franklin to achieve the production level that existed before the Elgin incident – some 140,000 boepd – a redevelopment project involving the drilling of new infill wells on the fields is currently underway. Meanwhile, the firm also reported that the West Franklin Phase II development project remains ongoing, with production start-up scheduled for 2014.
At the time of the leak incident in March last year, the Elgin and Franklin fields were producing around nine percent of total UK gas production. At their peak, the two fields can produce up to 280,000 boepd, according to Total.
Total Upstream President Yves-Louis Darricarrère commented in a company statement Monday:
"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.
"Lessons learnt have been shared with the UK authorities and will also be shared with the wider industry."
Total shut down and evacuated non-essential personnel from the Elgin March 25, 2012 after a sheen of gas was reported within the vicinity of the platform.
The firm soon performed a "dynamic kill" well-intervention operation – using the West Phoenix (UDW semisub) rig – that involved pumping heavy mud into the well that had leaked, which was achieved in May. A lengthier process to seal the well with cement was completed in autumn.
Total stated in August last year that the overall environmental impact of the gas leak incident at Elgin was "minimal", with 3,096 tons of natural gas and 3,076 tons of condensate being lost because of the leak. Most of this evaporated in the atmosphere, the firm said, while the sheen – representing some 407 tons of condensate – dispersed naturally into the sea.