Kate Mackenzie Timor Sea oil fire (almost) extinguished; leak is ‘killed’


Source: PTTEP

The fire on an oil rig platform in the Timor Sea has been extinguished and the leak, which had been spewing oil into the water for 10 weeks, has been plugged.  PTT Exploration and Production, the Thai company that operates the West Triton rig, had made several attempts to plug the leak since it began in August. But today it managed to fix both the leak and the fire it had been feeding since Saturday.

From PTTEP’s media release:

Well control experts onboard the nearby West Triton rig pumped approximately 3,400 barrels of heavy mud plus 1,000 barrels of brine down the relief well which had successfully intercepted the leaking well on Sunday morning. The well will now continue to be monitored for the next 24 to 48 hours to ensure that it remains stable.

Once the mud-puming began, it was all over rather quickly:

The operation to pump the heavy mud began at 1440 (CST). The main fire at the well head
platform was reported out at 1548 (CST).

Not all of the fire is extinguished; PTTEP said parts of the platform may still be on fire, but will burn out as the gas escaping from the leak runs out.

Next comes the unenviable task of cleaning-up the damage caused by the leak, which appears to have harmed the abundant wildlife in the surrounding area as it leaked an estimated 300 – 400 barrels of oil a day (some suggested the number could be much higher). A federal government inquiry has also been scheduled into the accident and the attempts to address it – both have which have been the subject of a political furore.

Related links:

More photos from PTTEP
Video from BBC of the fire
What’s worse than an oil rig leaking into the sea? (FT Energy Source, 02/11/09)
When offshore oil goes horribly wrong (FT Energy Source, 27/10/09)