French oil company Total still hopes to restart gas production at the Elgin Franklin platform in the North Sea by year end but it may not be possible until early next year, a senior executive said on Sunday.

The fields were shut after a gas leak in May and the company had aimed to restart production by the end of the year, but that may depend on whether British safety regulator the HSE is happy with the company's restart plan.

"We still have the objective of restarting the fields at the end of this year to the beginning of next year. But in between we will have to submit an HSE safety case," Yves-Loius Darricare, Total's head of upstream, told reporters at a conference in Abu Dhabi.

With UK gas demand typically peaking in January or February when heating needs are highest, the restart of Elgin Franklin before the end of 2012 would help boost supplies in the coldest mid-winter months.

The peak production capability for the Elgin/Franklin field is 280,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, 175,000 barrels per day condensate and 15.5 million cubic meters of gas per day (mcm/d), according to Total.

(Reporting by Daniel Fineren; Editing by Susan Fenton)