Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL, has begun the process of drilling a relief well to seal the shallow water Funiwa 1A natural gas well. The relief well is being drilled to extinguish a fire that began since January 16, at the original well approximately six miles (10 km) off the coast of Nigeria.
Chevron said the drilling plans will enable the cementing and abandonment of the Funiwa 1A well. The relief well is being drilled by the Transocean Baltic rig with approvals from Nigerian authorities.
“CNL shares the concerns of the people of Nigeria about this incident. We have engaged with residents of the shoreline communities to listen to their concerns, explain what has happened and demonstrate our extensive response,” said Andrew Fawthrop, chairman and managing director of Chevron’s Nigeria/Mid-Africa business unit.
The company also said it will continue to conduct regular monitoring flights over the incident site and beaches, adding that the water and shorelines have been extensively videotaped and photographed, showing evidence that they have not been affected. Besides, Chevron employs 30 area residents to conduct daily walking inspections of 88 kilometers of shoreline.
“Sampling and testing of air, sea/river water, sediment, soil, fisheries and vegetation is being conducted to determine any impacts on the environment. This analysis is performed by independent environmental consultant, Fugro Nigeria Limited,” the company said.
According to Chevron, there is evidence of muddiness in the seawater close to the incident site due to agitation of the seafloor from escaping natural gas. However, it said, “The gas is being burned at the surface by a fire which has reduced substantially since the start of the incident. The company affirms that no oil was spilled or has flowed from this natural gas well.”