UPDATE 1-Total could stop N Sea gas leak by end April -report

Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:45am EDT

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(Adds Total statement, environmental impact of leak)

PARIS/LONDON, April 11 (Reuters) - A leak at Total's North Sea Elgin gas platform could be stopped by the end of April, if everything goes as planned, U.K. managing director Philippe Guys said in a newspaper interview.

Guys told Scottish daily The Press and Journal that the French oil major planned to carry out a successful "dynamic kill" on the leaking G4 well before May.

"We are working hard and if all goes as planned we envisage by the end of this month we should be having control of the well," he was quoted as saying.

Total has said the leak is costing it $2.5 million a day so far, and its stock has dropped by almost 7 percent since it was reported, knocking billions of euros off the company's value.

Total was not immediately available to comment on the Guys interview on Wednesday.

In a statement late last night, Total had said it would take weeks of preparatory work, including several helicopter flights to transport equipment onto the rig, before a procedure to kill the well could begin.

Specialist equipment was flown into Aberdeen in Scotland over the weekend from Houston-based crisis management company Wild Well Control which is advising Total on how to plug the leak.

Total plans to pump mud into the well to stop the gas leak after a reconnaissance team found that conditions were safe enough to allow the operation.

Guys was speaking after another specialist team on Tuesday flew to the platform to carry out inspections, cleaning work, and to record the pressure of the gas spewing out of the platform.

An initial environmental impact analysis of the leak suggests that damage to marine life is minimal.

A taste-test of fish samples collected from close to the leaking Elgin platform detected no trace of hydrocarbon contamination, Marine Scotland said on Wednesday.

Full chemical analysis results of water and sediment samples taken from the edge of a two-mile exclusion zone around Elgin are expected by the end of the week, the agency said. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon in Paris and Oleg Vukmanovic in London; Editing by Elena Berton and Erica Billingham)

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