Total has started pumping heavy mud into a leaking well on its North Sea oil platform.
The gas leak on Total’s Elgin platform started on March 25 and led to the evacuation of all 238 staff. At one point about 200,000 cubic metres of gas was leaking from the platform every day but this was said to have been reduced by two-thirds when workers started drilling a relief well last month.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) granted Total approval earlier this month to "kill" the well by pumping heavy mud into it.
Total said today that it had started the planned “well intervention operation to stop the leak from the G4 well on the Elgin complex”.
"The well intervention operation got under way at 9.20am with the pumping of heavy mud into the well from the main support vessel, the West Phoenix semi-submersible drilling rig, via a temporary pipeline connected to the G4 wellhead.
"Depending on the precise conditions inside the well, the operation itself and the subsequent observation period will last a few days before it is possible to confirm whether the operation has been fully effective," Total said.
Two options are being worked on by the company to stop the leak: blocking the well with mud and drilling a relief well to try to capture the gas.
A DECC spokesman said it was continuing to monitor the situation closely.