Al Jazeera report February 4, 2012
First there’s news of a rig fire, which turns out to be much more than just a fire. In fact, it’s an exploratory gas well burning uncontrollably. That’s called a blowout and it’s what happened to the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico. The well spews oil or gas until it can be “killed.”
Chevron, the owner of the Endeavour rig, does not use the term blowout. But the company did admit that drilling a relief well would be necessary to cut off the flow of gas. A few days ago, company officials announced that drilling of the relief well had started.
Now, we have an update from the BBC. Speaking to a BBC reporter, Chevron spokesman Lloyd Avram has acknowledged that, “A gas-fuelled fire, with flames as high as 5 meters, may burn for months in waters off the Niger Delta in south-east Nigeria.”
“There’ll be 10,000ft of drilling and interestingly we need to hit an area that is approximately 12 square inches,” Avram told the BBC.
“It is going to take some time, but I cannot predict how long that is going to be – conceivably months,” he added.
Read the BBC story here.
Up until now, Chevron has denied any environmental impact related to this fire, even though it has been burning for more than one month.
But read what BBC reporter Mark Lobel writes from the scene:
Looking on, it was like watching a volcano erupting, fire spewing in every direction.
On a boat 50m from the fire, we saw black bubbles rise to the surface and black smoke spread into the air. Chevron had previously assured me there was no black smoke since the time a little fuel spilled just after the explosion in January.
Many people in Koluama, the community 10km away from the fire, are too afraid to eat fish, despite it being so crucial to their diets.
The new deputy state governor, on a visit of Koluama in Bayelsa State, was surprisingly critical of Chevron. He said the firm should have been better prepared for the accident. He told me he had seen signs of chemicals washing ashore.
Nigerian papers reported possible environmental problems just days after the rig exploded and also reported that local complaints were being ignored by federal government and company officials.