The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK has given its clearance to France-based major oil group Total to restart its Elgin gas field in the North Sea, which was closed in March 2012 following a major gas leak.
The HSE accepted the revised safety case, which was submitted by Total, and has allowed the oil company to restart production at one of the world’s deepest and most highly pressurised wells.
In a press statement, HSE said: "The company undertook to demonstrate that it had re-evaluated the risks associated with operating the installation by resubmitting the safety case required by HSE to permit production."
A Total spokeswoman was quoted by Reuters as saying that subsequent to the HSE’s decision, the company will restart operations at Elgin as early as possible.
In January, Total’s chief executive said that the field could not start full production for several months or even years, as the company needed to redesign the installation.
The news agency said that about three percent of Britain’s total gas output is produced from Elgin gas field, and its shutdown has affected the UK’s stagnating economy.
In 2012, the fall in oil and gas production in the country pulled back growth by 0.2% points of gross domestic product (GDP).
Located 240km off the coast of eastern Scotland, the Elgin gas field spewed gas for more than seven weeks in 2012, after pipework that was weakened by corrosion exploded due to unusually high pressure.
Total had to evacuate more than 200 workers from the area after a well, thousands of metres underneath the seabed, ripped open and started spewing a mixture of mud and hydrocarbons onto the drilling deck, reported the BBC.
Elgin field was pumping about nine million cubic metres of gas daily and 60,000 barrels of light oil per day at the time of its closure.
Image: Elgin-Franklin Offshore Field, North Sea.