06 March 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – The fire that killed two workers and destroyed a gas exploration rig at Chevron Nigeria’s Funiwa field off Nigeria’s south-east coast has gone out after 46 days, the company has said.
It stopped burning by itself after rock fragments within the underground natural gas well sealed off the leak.
The US oil and gas firm, which operates the rig, said it would continue work to permanently plug the well.
Friends of the Earth, which said this was the world’s worst such accident in recent years, welcomed the news.
The environmental group has urged Chevron to compensate local Nigerian fishermen for income lost while the fire burned.
Chevron says it will monitor for any new gas flow and, once it is declared safe, abandon the problematic well in the next few months.
A major build-up of gas pressure from drilling caused the explosion that set the KS Endeavour rig on fire in the middle of January, according to state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
One month on, flames were as high as 5m (16ft 4in) and burned in a 40m-wide area on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, 10km (6 miles) away from the Niger Delta.
The fire had not caused any oil spillage, according to Chevron.
Scientists are conducting tests to see whether local food and water was contaminated by the gas.