Sunday, November 01, 2009

Oil Rig Catches Fire in Timor Sea

In other oil spill news, an oil rig northwest of Australia has been leaking oil for two and a half months despite various attempts to plug the leak. Yesterday, during another failed attempt, the oil rig caught fire.

A director of the company, Jose Martins, said the only way to stop the fire was to plug the leak.

"The measures which we have been able to take so far can only mitigate the fire. They will not stop the fire.

"The best way to stop the fire is to complete the well-kill and stop the flow of gas and oil at the surface from the H-1 well, cutting off the fuel source for the fire."

Australian Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said in a statement that some of the world's leading experts were working to fix the leaking well and respond to this latest problem.

Mr Ferguson said the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority had been called out to help fight the fire and that Geoscience Australia and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority were on standby.
So the upshot is that now the Timor Sea has a leaky petroleum torch. In a way, I am surprised that a fire did not break out sooner given that oil has been leaking 400 barrels per day for so long. I also have to agree with the opposition leader quoted by the BBC that the performance of the oil company and Australian government in this incident has not inspired much confidence in their abilities to fix the problem.