Total said yesterday it planned to step up the operation to “kill” the leaking Elgin well next week.
The company is moving ahead with two procedures which it hopes will stem the flow of gas from the stricken North Sea platform.
It said yesterday it hoped to pump mud into the G4 well next week. Once the mud has blocked the gas and restored normal pressure, cement will be poured in to seal it.
The company said if the weather conditions were right, the West Phoenix, a semisubmersible rig, could move alongside the Elgin installation to begin the operation.
Total has already started work on a back-up solution if the West Phoenix’s work fails.
Transocean’s Sedco 714 rig began drilling a relief well to plug the leak last week and the Rowan Gorilla V will also drill a well nearby. That operation is expected to take six months to complete.
All 238 men had to be evacuated from the Elgin platform more than a month ago. The gas was initially leaking at a rate of seven tonnes per hour, but that has since dropped to less than 2.5 tonnes.
Earlier this week, a “diverter” was fitted to the G4 wellhead to carry the gas away from the area to ensure there are no hydrocarbons accumulating around G4.
Total said the installation of the diverter would maximise the safety of the well-intervention operations, alleviating restrictions on helicopter landings.