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Reuters.com: At least three die in Shell Nigeria oil well fire

Reuters.com: At least three die in Shell Nigeria oil well fire

Posted 19 May 04

LAGOS, May 18 (Reuters) – At least three people died in a fire that engulfed Royal Dutch Shell’s disused Afam Well-16 in southeastern Nigeria, the company said on Tuesday.

Shell, Nigeria’s biggest producer, said in a statement the dead were members of a gang of suspected oil thieves who ruptured parts of the wellhead. A helicopter overfly sighted a burning tanker at the scene.

Shell said it had mobilised oil well fire experts Boots and Coots International to the facility because of the “intensity and complexity” of the inferno which has been raging since Sunday.

“Casualty figures are not known but it appears that three people may have died,” the statement said.

The Anglo-Dutch oil giant said it had informed appropriate government and regulatory agencies about the fire at the well in Oyigbo district of Rivers state.

Shell withdrew from the Afam field in 1999 after a string of violent attacks by local militants.

Oil theft is common in Nigeria’s southern region where scores of suspected thieves have been arrested by the navy in the last few months.

Copyright 2004, Reuters News Service

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