French oil giant Total says it could take months to stop the gas leak on its Elgin platform in the North Sea.
Engineers are looking at two options, either drilling a relief well or possibly carrying out a riskier so called “dynamic kill”. It involves sending in personnel to pump heavy mud into the well to suppress the flow of gas.
Oil and Gas Analyst Stuart Joyner at Investec said:
“Worst case is obviously that we see a need to drill a relief well. At the moment it appears to be a back stop but if they have to drill a relief well that will take six months or up to six months.”
A cloud of gas currently surrounds the platform from where all 238 crew were evacuated last Sunday after a reservoir 6,000 meters below the sea bed began to leak.
Stuart Joyner speculated over where the blame for the leak lies: “Overseas there will be questions asked about Total’s decisions in the run up to this and whether there was any negligence involved.”
The Elgin well which pumps some three per cent of Britain’s gas is one of the deepest most pressurised offshore natural gas fields in the world.
The current crisis has caused Total’s share price to slip by six per cent.