Iraq's North Oil Company battles well fire

07 March 2016

Fire was sparked by accidental detonation of abandoned munitions

Iraq’s state-owned North Oil Company (NOC) is attempting to bring an oil well fire near the town of Balad.

The fire was started in late February by the accidental detonation of abandoned munitions, according to an official source.

“It has not been long since the area was occupied by Isis [the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] and there are still mines in the area as well as unexploded shells,” the source said.

Isis was engaged in fierce fighting in the area in mid-2015.

No one was hurt in the incident, according to the source. “The well is located near to some villages, but these were already empty due to fighting in the area, so nobody needed to be evacuated,” he said.

“In order to put out the fire you first need to take control of the well and stop the oil and gas being produced. Until you stop that it cannot be put out.”

The well is called Balad-2 and  NOC has made good progress in bringing the fire under control, according to the source.

It is hoped it will be extinguished within a week, according to the source.

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