Total receives permission to restart North Sea’s Elgin natural gas field
The UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on Wednesday accepted the safety case made by French producer Total for the operation of its Elgin natural gas field, paving the way for output to restart at the North Sea platform.
The HSE said it is now up to Total to decide when operations will resume at the linked Elgin-Franklin fields, although the investigation into the incident that caused the shutdown is ongoing.
This follows an issue that took place on 25 March 2012, which resulted in a significant gas leak and forced Total to evacuate staff from the platform. (see ESGM 26 March 2012).
Production was consequently stalled at the 15.5 million cubic metre/day fields, which are located about 240km east of Aberdeen in Scotland and feed gas through the SEAL system to Bacton.
The outage catalysed a bullish market in the days that followed, with NBP prompt prices surging on fears that the facility may be out for six months.
Total confirmed on 16 May 2012 that it had completed a well-intervention designed to plug the leak, saying at the time that it was intending to gradually restart production from the field by the end of the 2012, depending on the weather. (see ESGM 16 May 2012).
Total could not be reached for comment on Wednesday concerning how quickly a restart could take place, although traders at the NBP do not expect the French operator to hesitate in bringing the fields back on line. Sources assume any restart will be a gradual process. Total recently implied that only half the field's daily output may be brought back into service this year. Ben Samuel
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