March 7, 2012 / 6:01 AM / 7 years ago

Chevron says fire now out at Nigeria gas well

LAGOS (Reuters) - Chevron Corp. said on Tuesday that a raging fire that followed a gas explosion at its Funiwa well just off the coast of Nigeria had gone out by itself.

“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 statement said.

“CNL (Chevron Nigeria Limited) has detected no natural gas flowing from the well since the fire ceased burning and is monitoring the area continuously.”

The fire was becoming a headache for Chevron, which had drilled a relief well to try to stop it but appeared unable to quell the flames for weeks.

Local communities said the fire was out but that it had killed large numbers of fish and polluted the air.

Local people also complained that the gas was still leaking.

“The fire has been put off since Friday, but the gas emission is worse. Raw gas is continuing to bubble in the air and is making it hard for people to breathe,” said Matthew Sele, 20, unemployed in the town of Koluma, which faces the shallow offshore gas terminal.

No independent assessment could immediately be obtained on whether gas continued to leak or not in this remote area.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan last week visited the site just offshore from the labyrinthine creeks and swamps of the Niger Delta, and he urged the company to give more aid to the communities affected.

Two contractors went missing after the initial gas explosion in January and were presumed dead. Chevron has said that equipment failure may have been the cause of the fire.

Environmental campaigners routinely accuse oil companies of not following best practice in Nigeria, where accidents and oil spills are far more common than in many other oil producing countries.

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