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Bapco blaze triggers safety checks

Manama, April 27, 2008

Stringent checks are to be carried out to ensure homes or other buildings are well away from Bahrain's oil wells, following the Bapco blaze.

Action will also be taken to stop families camping dangerously close to wells and pipelines, said Bapco company chairman and Oil and Gas Affairs minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza.

He has instructed Bapco to carry out a detailed analysis of the causes and impact of the fire, which raged for 10 days in the Bahrain Field, which stretches from Sakhir to Awali.

US-based firm Wild Well Control helped Bapco's emergency response team and Civil Defence and National Guard teams fighting the blaze, which broke out at Well 380 on April 11 and was finally put out last Monday.

"The fire was put out in a record period of 10 days," Dr Mirza told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.

"However, I have asked Bapco to do a proper analysis of the incident, to know what lessons we can learn for future."

One of the areas to be focused on will be to define the distance from each well to a residential or office building, said Dr Mirza.

"There should be enough distance to allow for safety procedures to be carried out," he added.

"Though such distances now are within safety limits, there have been some encroachments. The study will cover this aspect as well and make the necessary recommendations.

"Such people should realise that although the wells are safe, there can be an incident some time which may turn dangerous."

Dr Mirza said many people camp around the wells, choosing such areas for picnics.

"We want to alert them and say that their action is not within the rules of safety," he added.

"We are also using this experience to further strengthen Bapco's major incident procedures."

Dr Mirza said financial losses caused by the fire were minimal, compared to incidents elsewhere that have cost millions.

"At an average of less than $10,000 (BD3,780) per day, it cost us around $100,000 (BD37,800)," he noted. "However, both Bapco and the contractors are covered by insurance."

Dr Mirza thanked the political leadership and all personnel involved in putting out the blaze.

He also praised the iniatives taken by Bapco management and staff, the Interior Ministry, particularly the Civil Defence, National Guard and the Public Security who worked as one team, in co-ordination with the US firm.

"Bapco personnel have demonstrated a high standard of proficiency and diligence," said Dr Mirza.

"They were on site just a few minutes after the incident, and with the help of Civil Defence the area was cordoned off to ensure that there was no risk for human beings."

Dr Mirza, who visited the site several times, said the response to the incident proved that Bapco's safety practices were working well.

He also praised Wild Well Control, which sent experts from its headquarters in Houston, US, and equipment from its base in Abu Dhabi.

After putting out the blaze, the experts fixed safety valves to the well head, to prevent future leaks. A large amount of water and mud were pumped inside.

Wild Well Control was one of three companies contracted by Kuwait Oil Company to put out raging fires in 1991, following Iraq's invasion. It capped more than 130 wells in eight months.-TradeAraabia News Service




Tags: Bapco | Safety | checks | blaze |

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