North Sea Leak Continues to Plague Total (TOT, RDS-A, BP)

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A leaking well in the North Sea continues to hamper crude oil production from the Elgin field operated by Total SA (NYSE: TOT). The company has shut-in about 130,000 barrels/day of oil equivalent as it was forced to evacuate all its workers from the area. Royal Dutch Shell plc (NYSE: RDS-A) also evacuated some personnel from a nearby platform and suspended some drilling operations.

The leaking well has been shut-in for a year and the leak is reportedly coming in at the platform level, not under the surface. Total is considering drilling a relief well, similar to the action taken by BP plc (NYSE: BP) when it was trying to stop the leak at its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Drilling a relief well would take a long time, and would prevent Total from resuming production in the field until the well is completed.

Shares of Total are off about -6.7% today at $51.10 in a 52-week range of $40.00-$64.44.