3 Nov 2009

PTTEP: Oil rig fire now out

A fire rages on the West Atlas drilling rig and the Montara wellhead platform 250km off the Australian northwest coast before it is distinguished Monday. (AFP Photo)

The fire at a leaking PTTEP oil rig in the sea off north Australia is finally extinguished on Tuesday, and now the clean up begins

The fire that destroyed a leaking oil drilling platform that has been spewing crude oil into the Timor Sea, north of Australia, for months has finally been extinguished, PTTEP chief executive officer Anon Sirisaengtaksin said on Tuesday.

He said the blaze at the Montara well started on Nov 1.

"We finally managed to extinguish it about about 1pm Bangkok time. We are keeping everything under watch to make sure it is 100 per cent under control," Mr Anon said.

PTT Exploration and Production Plc (PTTEP) will next week send staff to examine the extent of the damage to the West Atlas platform.

He said the company will review the oil production plan at the Montara well after experts finish with their damage assessment.

Mr Anon said PTTEP has an insurance policy to cover damage of up to about US$270 million.

Energy Minister Wannarat Channukul said the damage to the oil rig was initially estimated at two billion baht.

The incident would not affect deliveries of fuel and natural gas to Thailand, he said.

The minister said the fire was caused by a technical problem, which had now been solved.

PTTEP had evacuated all staff from the rig and would take steps to get rid of the oil slick under standards fixed by the Australian government, Mr Wannarat said.

The leaking rig has been spewing up to 400 barrels of crude oil into the pristine Timor Sea each day since Aug 21, sparking an environmental uproar in Australia.

No staff had worked on the West Atlas since it began leaking

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