Gas Fire at Rumaila to Hit Oil Production

Reuters reports that a fire has broken out at a state-run gas compression unit at Iraq's Rumaila oilfield on Tuesday, killing one person and hitting oil production.

"We have stopped exporting gas that would have been exported into this compressor and this will have an impact on our production from Rumaila," BP spokesman David Nicholas said in London, without offering figures for the cut in oil output.

The incident occurred after excess pressure in one of the storage units and high temperatures caused a gas leak, sources at Iraq's South Oil Company said. A chief oil engineer at the South Oil Company said the fire erupted while workers were carrying out maintenance work at the gas compression facility.

"As a result of the gas compression unit fire, we have nine workers seriously wounded. Some of them are suffering from severe burns," an oil police source said. "Three others are still missing ... and one worker was killed."

Oil major BP, which is developing Rumaila along with CNPC, said the gas compression facility supplied the city of Basra with fuel and was not part of its operations at the oilfield.

"It was an explosion at the South Gas Company ... which is next door to our facilities but they are not run by Rumaila at all," Michael Townshend, president of BP-Iraq, told Reuters. "We are lending all the assistance we can and our priority is to assist all those injured at the moment."

Another BP spokesman said: "As a precautionary measure Rumaila Operating Organisation (ROO) has shut in some oil production to stop supplies of associated gas to the affected Southern Gas Company gas compression plant. No further details for the time being."

"As a result of the fire, BP should now halt production at some oil wells until making sure the gas pipeline is totally closed and no gas leakage still exists," an SOC engineer said. "Then they can resume operations at their degassing station by flaring the gas that was being supplied to the Iraqi gas compressor before the fire."

(Sources: Reuters, Iraq Oil Report)

(Picture: A de-gassing station at Rumaila)

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