LAGOS (AFP) – An inferno at a Chevron natural gas well off Nigeria that began in January, killed two people and sparked fears of serious environmental damage has finally stopped burning, the company said Tuesday.
Chevron said in a statement that “the fire at the site of the Funiwa 1A natural gas well offshore Nigeria ceased burning on Friday, March 2. The well stopped flowing on its own.”
The company said it “has detected no natural gas flowing from the well since the fire ceased burning and is monitoring the area continuously.”
Chevron planned to continue drilling a relief well to permanently plug and abandon Funiwa 1A, it said. It has opened an investigation into the cause of the fire.
Fire broke out on the KS Endeavor rig some six miles (10 kilometres) off Nigeria’s coast on January 16, leading to the evacuation of personnel. Two people died, while 152 others were evacuated safely.
Coastal communities and activists have raised fears of damage to the environment, particularly contamination of fish.
President Goodluck Jonathan recently visited one of the nearby communities, located in his home state of Bayelsa.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer and its natural gas reserves have been estimated as the world’s eighth-largest.