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Total To Abandon Nigerian Well After Stopping Gas Leak

05/18/2012 | 06:23pm US/Eastern

Total SA (TOT) will permanently abandon a well in Nigeria's Niger Delta after stopping a natural gas leak earlier this week, a company spokesman said Friday.

"Total E&P Nigeria Ltd. announced (Friday) that following the successful 'snubbing' operation on the Ibewa 16 well, cement seals are in place and permanent abandonment of the well is progressing as planned," the spokesman, Fred Ohwahwa, said in a statement.

As a result, the company has informed authorities that two planned relief wells were no longer necessary and will not be drilled, Ohwahwa said.

He said Total was working towards restarting the Obite gas treatment plant, which was shut down after the leak's discovery.

The leak began March 20 during the drilling of a new well in southern River state. Total said it was alerted to the leak on April 3 and shut down the Obite gas plant while a safety perimeter was being enforced around the leak at the Ibeto 16 well.

Ohwahwa said the snubbing operation that started on May 9 to stop the gas leak consisted of introducing small pipes to pump heavy fluids into the well in orderto halt gas flow, and setting cement plugs to isolate the reservoir. The company said it successfully stopped the gas leak on Sunday.

The spokesman said all environmental monitoring activities, including air and water quality analysis, will continue. Total will continue to provide regular updates to neighboring communities, local and federal authorities, regulators and other stakeholders, he added.

Nigeria, a major oil producer, has large gas reserves but little of the gas is used for commercial purposes. Most of it is flared daily in the Niger Delta.

-By Obafemi Oredein, contributing to Dow Jones Newswires; (212) 416 2800; copydesk@dowjones.com

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