Total says leak on North Sea platform stopped

Total SA, Europe’s third-largest oil producer, said it halted a natural-gas leak at the Elgin field in the North Sea by pumping heavy mud into the well.

The operation started yesterday and ended the leak at the G4 well after 12 hours, the Paris-based company said today in a statement on its website. The platform, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) east of Aberdeen, Scotland, was evacuated after the leak started on March 25.

“A major turning point has been achieved,” Yves-Louis Darricarrere, head of exploration and production, said in the statement. “Our absolute priority was to stop the gas leak safely and as quickly as possible.”

While no one was hurt, the incident may cost Total as much as $400 million in lost output from the Elgin platform this year, Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said May 11. Production probably won’t restart until the end of 2012, he said.

Total rose 1.6 percent to 34.92 euros in Paris.

The estimated leakage rate had dropped to about 50,000 cubic meters a day from an initial figure of 200,000 cubic meters, the company said. Total had plans to dig two relief wells to stop the leak, the first of which started drilling on April 18.

Total will stick to a target to increase production in the coming years despite the leak at Elgin and another in Nigeria, de Margerie said last week. Total has pledged to increase output by 2.5 percent annually on average through 2015 with the startup of 25 projects.