The fire from an explosion at a new gas well head at Funawa 5 gas platform on the drilling rig KS Endeavour operated by Chevron Nigeria Limited in Bayelsa State has gone out after 46 days of its rage.
Chevron said the fire that killed two workers and destroyed a gas exploration rig off Nigeria's south-east coast stopped burning by itself after rock fragments within the underground natural gas well sealed off the leak.
According to a report on the BBC yesterday, the US oil and gas firm said it would continue work to permanently plug the well back. One month on, flames were reported to be as high as five metres, while the fire burned for 46 days uninterrupted.
Friends of the Earth which said the fire outbreak was the world's worst such accident in recent years, welcomed the news. It however urged Chevron to compensate local Nigerian fishermen for income lost while the fire burned.
Chevron said it would monitor any new gas flow, and once it was declared safe, abandon the problematic well in the next few months.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had stated that a major build-up of gas pressure from the drilling had caused the explosion that set the KS Endeavour rig on fire in the middle of January.
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, had in the wake of the outbreak, taken stock of the situation at the site along the Koluama River in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Her visit had helped the Federal Government establish an on-the-spot evaluation of the condition of the gas leak site in view of its willingness to address the issues of environmental pollution wreaked by the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas resources in the country, especially in the Niger Delta region.
Alison-Madueke's visit was immediately followed by that of President Goodluck Jonathan who was equally accompanied by the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafa where he assured angry residents of the community of adequate compensation by the government. Jonathan had said that he is aware of the communities concerns and the impact of the Chevron fire on the environment.
The flames had burned as high as five metres (16ft 4in) in a 40 metre-wide area on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, 10 kilometres (6 miles) away from the Niger Delta. The fire had not caused any oil spillage, but according to Chevron, scientists are conducting tests to see whether local food and water was contaminated by the gas.
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