Total resumes gas production at Elgin field

OIL GIANT Total has restarted gas production at its North Sea field, almost a year after a leak caused output to grind to a halt.

The UK safety watchdog last week gave clearance to the French oil major to restart production at the vast Elgin/Franklin field.

Production in the North Sea field, 240km off the coast of eastern Scotland, has been halted since last March. Unusually high pressure caused pipework weakened by corrosion to burst, which spewed gas for over seven weeks.

Yves-Louise Darricarrere, president of Total’s upstream unit, said yesterday that all necessary measures had been taken to safely resume production at the North Sea field, which would allow it to carry out further exploration in the area.

“Lessons learnt 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 these fields the soonest possible,” he added.

Production at Elgin will resume gradually, and should soon reach almost 70,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day – around 50 per cent of the field’s estimated potential.

Total is targeting a recovery of usual production levels at the field by 2015, helped by the development of two big projects.

Due to its sheer size, Elgin typically produces nearly three per cent of the UK’s output and its shutdown last year gave an additional hit to the stagnating economy, as falling oil and gas production held back growth by 0.2 per cent of GDP last year.

Elgin usually pumps 9m cubic metres of gas daily and 60,000 barrels of light oil per day, according to Total.