Ogoni: Oil Well Fire Rages in, 42 Days After
Forty-two days after a fire outbreak on the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) operated Yorla Well-13, it has not abated despite dire consequences for the people and the environment. Vanguard found that unlike the quick response mechanism that attended similar oil well fires in the oil and gas industry, there was initial difficulty in accessing the site of the fire.
Eyewitnesses said the raging fire had cast a dark pale over the affected area, denying flora and fauna necessary intake of sunlight, even as falling rain being accompanied by it polluted carbon dioxide with serious implications for the ecosystem.
Management of the SPDC which operates a Joint Venture on behalf of itself and the Federal Government has, however, re-assured the affected neighbouring Ogoni communities, the Rivers State Government and all other stakeholders that it was doing everything possible to put out the fire.
Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, the company's External Affairs Director, in a statement said the operations to disable the well and extinguish the fire started last week after detailed preparations and technical planning.
She said the delay in putting out the fire might had increased the intensity of the fire, necessitating the need to invite US-based international fire experts, Boots and Coots Company.
The operation, supported by Boots and Coots, entails a demanding technical operation, and involves removal of the well head (Christmas Tree), extinguishing the fire and ensuring control of the well. The well fire specialists, it was gathered, have cut the well head and efforts are being made to control the gas from the well and extinguish the fire.However, the immediate cause of the fire is yet to be determined, while the company says preliminary observations suggest tampering by unknown persons. "When the fire was reported to us on August 14, SPDC was denied access to the site by community youths, and officials of the Rivers State Government had to lead protracted discussions before we were allowed in. Working through a community contractor and, in agreement with the Ogoni Youth Council, we repaired access roads, prepared the location, and mobilised fire fighting and well services teams to Yorla to repair any damage and fight the fire.