(Adds background, details)
PARIS Jan 25 Total's Elgin gas field
in the UK North Sea will not return to full capacity before
months or even years, the group's Chief Executive Christophe de
Margerie told French TV channel France 24 on Friday.
The field was shut down in March last year following a gas
leak that lasted more than seven weeks, caused by gas flowing
into a well that had been capped earlier.
De Margerie reiterated that the field would restart within
the next days or weeks.
It will however take a lot longer to bring the field back to
"We will restart the field within the next few days or weeks
and then we will have to think how to re-design the field so
that it can return to full output and it will take several
months or years," de Margerie said on the sidelines of the World
Economic Forum in Davos.
Total submitted the safety case to restart the field at the
end of November to Britain's Health and Safety Executive (HSE),
the authority which decides whether the field is safe or not to
The authority has a maximum of 90 days to make a verdict on
the safety case submission. If it is accepted then the field
will restart before the end of February.
Total previously said it expected to lose more than $300
million from lost production if Elgin did not restart in 2012.
The platform usually produces 3 percent of Britain's gas and
is one of the deepest and most highly pressurised wells in the
It usually pumps 9 million cubic metres of gas daily and
60,000 barrels of light oil per day, according to Total.
(Reporting by Muriel Boselli, Michel Rose and Karolin Schaps;
editing by James Jukwey)