Health & Safety Report 2013


Wild Well Control was already mobilised and suitably experienced for this operation, the timescale of which was measured in weeks.

A back-up option of relief well drilling was also started in the event the ‘top kill’ was ineffective. Two drilling rigs (Rowan Gorilla V & Transocean Sedco 714) were immediately made available. The timescale for drilling a relief well was measured in months. Risk assessments were conducted and required for all options and strategies, and back-up options were resourced. These assessments included the first reconnaissance flight, surveillance flights, initial boarding of the PUQ, and a review of the North Atlantic Drilling West Phoenix rig’s capability for the pumping operation. Regulatory approval for the ‘top kill’ came from DECC on 3 May 2012 following detailed environmental assessments and approval from the HSE. On 15 May, after a 12-hour operation to pump heavy, water-based drilling mud into Elgin’s G4 well, the leak stopped. On 16 May, TEP UK confirmed that the well had been brought back under control, and on 21 May the company announced that the gas leak had been sealed and that the well was stable. Since the Elgin incident, TEP UK’s investigation has led to operating procedures being revised to reflect the G4 lessons and, in turn, make operations safer. Wells have to comply with stringent integrity criteria before being put back into production, taking into account the knowledge gained during and following the incident. This information was included in the Elgin/Franklin Safety Case, which was re-submitted to the HSE to remake the case for safe production from the wells. The Safety Case has since been accepted. Production resumed on 9 March 2013. Throughout the incident and in the period since, TEP UK has made great efforts to share the lessons learnt by presenting at a number of industry seminars and forums. Work is also ongoing within the Oil & Gas UK Well Life Cycle Practices Forum (WLCPF) to review and improve as necessary the industry’s management of HP/HT well stock.

Aerial Photo of the Elgin B Jacket and Rowan Viking Alongside

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