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FG Confirms Enugu Associated Gas Reservoir Fire, Awaits Caritas Varsity Survey

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The Management of the Nigerian Petroleum Up­stream Petroleum Regula­tory Commission (NUPRC) has confirmed a fire inci­dent triggered by a suspect­ed associated gas reservoir within the vicinity of Cari­tas University in Enugu, on May 22, 2022.

In a statement personal­ly signed by Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, the Commis­sion’s Chief Executive, the NUPRC boss said the incident was reported to NUPRC on May 26, 2022, but said Geophysical Resistivi­ty Survey to be carried out by the Caritas University on the area from June 3 and 4, 2022, would acquire data that will give better insight on the near-surface gas concentration in the area and its potential spread.

“It was confirmed that there is no pipeline right of way in the area and that the incident was caused by the activities of some con­tractors who were drilling a water borehole on the premises of the University.

“On receipt of the inci­dent report, NUPRC along­side other related agencies immediately carried out an investigation and dis­covered that the incident happened in the process of drilling a water well with a target drill depth of 400 meters for the University.

“It was learnt that the university engaged the services of HydroGeo Engineering Services for the drilling of water bore­hole but the job was later sub-contracted to Orange Water Wells Drilling Com­pany. In the course of the drilling, pressurized seep­age was encountered after about 200 meter and fumes were gushing out of the drilled hole.

“One of the workers who suspected the fumes to be gas seepage report­edly wanted to confirm his suspicion, and in process introduced a source of ig­nition which led to the fire outbreak. It was the unfor­tunate action that provid­ed a stronger basis for the qualification of the fumes as associated gas.

“Following the fire out­break, the drilling contrac­tor swiftly removed the drill pipes, demobilised the rig and immediately noti­fied the Enugu State gov­ernment of the incident.

“The state and federal fire services which were mobilised to the site, bat­tled the fire for more than two days.

“The university author­ity cordoned off the site and restricted access to the area; and directed for the immediate discontin­ued usage of all facilities within the affected area, in­cluding a nearby hall used for examinations.”

According to the state­ment, representatives of the NUPRC, in collabora­tion with officials of NORS­DRA, NMDPRA, NNPC, NCDSC and other related enforcement agencies paid visits to the site on May 27 and 31, 2022 respectively for the preliminary investiga­tion to ascertain the status and also gain insight on the cause to determine imme­diate safety and geotech­nical measures required to put off the fire and pre­vent loss of lives, property and damage to the environ­ment.

The Commission noted that during the visits, the officials confirmed that no fatality was recorded as a result of the incident, al­though a staff of the drill­ing company had sustained first-degree burns, adding that the staff was treated and discharged from the hospital.

NUPRC, therefore, stat­ed that the preliminary in­vestigation revealed that there is no pipeline right of way in the area, and that there is a continuous supply of gas from the underground source evi­denced by the continuous fire which is suggestive of the presence of shallow gas which may be associated with coal bed methane gas or gas seepage.

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