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Dow Jones Newswires: Ogoni, Nigeria Oil Well Fire Finally Extinguished – Shell

LAGOS -(Dow Jones)- The Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) announced late Tuesday it had put out the Yorla-13 wellhead fire in Ogoniland.

In a statement, SPDC said the fire, extinguished Tuesday, was first reported Aug. 14, 2006.

It said the intensity and nature of the blaze impeded initial attempts at putting it out, forcing the company to consider ‘a range of options,’ including disabling the well, and inviting Boots & Coots International Well Control Inc. (WEL) fire control specialists.

Officials from Boots & Coots arrived at the site Aug. 25. Shell said the officials ‘undertook fabrication of special tools, while more sophisticated equipment (was) also imported.’ These arrived in Nigeria Oct. 26, Shell added.

‘After further onsite fabrication and careful technical planning and review, the combined team succeeded in putting out the fire today,’ the statement said Tuesday.

The statement said the cause of the fire was yet to be determined, ‘but preliminary observations suggest tampering by unknown persons.’

SPDC withdrew from Ogoni in 1993 following disagreements between it and residents of the area, who accused the company of degrading their environment. The disagreement reached its climax in 1995, when the military government led by Gen. Sanni Abacha executed nine Ogoni leaders, who were accused of killing four other leaders said to be sympathetic to the military government then.

Shell hasn’t operated in the region since then.

There have been calls by some Ogoni leaders for the government to withdraw Shell’s oil block licenses in Ogoniland, but the government announced recently it had given the company a year to complete a reconciliation process with the Ogonis to pave way for its resumption of operations in the area.

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