Drilling of First Relief Well Under Way

Total said the volume of gas leaking from its Elgin platform in the North Sea has dropped by two thirds.

The French energy company Total has begun drilling the first relief well near its Elgin platform in the North Sea to stop the gas leak there. The company also announced April 20 that the volume of gas leaking from the wellhead has dropped by two thirds. The company's UK affiliate, Total E&P UK Limited, announced the leak March 25; it has made several surveillance helicopter overflights of the platform in preparation for drilling the two relief wells.

The leak prompted the evacuation of 238 workers and imposition of a safety zone extending two nautical miles from the platform.

Total is the world's fourth-largest listed producer of natural gas and a leading supplier of liquefied natural gas.

The Sedco 714 drilling rig spudded the relief well on April 18 about 2 kilometers east of the Elgin complex in water depths of around 90 meters after British authorities grant the necessary approvals, according to Total, which said the second rig, the Rowan Gorilla V, will be available to be deployed by early May.

Total and its contractor, Wild Well Control, have confirmed that the Elgin platform provides a safe base from which to support the relief well control operations, and they continue to deploy equipment.

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