Iran Focus: Ilam, Iran, Jul. 05 – An oil well in the Naft Shahr oil field in western Iran, has been on fire for nearly six weeks. Flames engulfed well number 24, located in Kermanshah province, 100 km northwest of the city of Ilam, on 29 May and spread to nearby installations.
Ilam, Iran, Jul. 05 – An oil well in the Naft Shahr oil field in western Iran, has been on fire for nearly six weeks. Flames engulfed well number 24, located in Kermanshah province, 100 km northwest of the city of Ilam, on 29 May and spread to nearby installations.
Ironically, even as authorities in Iran were desperately trying to put out the fire several weeks ago, Brigadier General Rostam Qasemi, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards-affiliated Khatam ol-Anbia construction company, expressed readiness for the Revolutionary Guards to resolve the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico if the United States and Britain made an official request.
Six weeks on and despite the efforts of provincial authorities, Iran has yet to put out the fire on its oil rig.
The Oil Ministry’s public relations department has come under increasing criticism for not making public the results of its emergency activities despite the many news releases early on about the beginning of multiple operations to extinguish the flames.
According to the Oil and Energy News Network, Oil Ministry experts have tried various methods to put out the fire, including one that “is exclusively known by Iranian experts”, which “directly attacks the fire by covering up the well’s surface”. Apparently, however, the 300 tonnes of steel structure and equipment that have come down on the well have prevented the success of this operation. The state-run news agency ILNA reported on Friday that the operation had “failed”.
Bahram Teymouri, the governor of Qasr-e Shirin county, situated in Kermanshah Province, told reporters on Saturday that all of the local resources and those of nearby towns have been utilised to put out the fire. “The most important requirement for the operation is the fire-fighters’ water supply”, he said, adding that the priority now is to find new water supplies by tapping into all of the existing sources in the region.
In many of nearby Ilam Province’s cities and villages there are still mines left over from the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. According to Teymouri, “There are still a variety of mines in the region where the damaged well is located”.
Although Iran benefited from foreign expertise to deal with burning oil wells prior to the 1979 revolution, that level of cooperation dramatically decreased after the clerical regime came to power. Observers believe current expertise in Iran is severely lacking compared to global standards.
Iran, a member of the OPEC oil cartel, is the world’s fourth biggest crude exporter.