IBNA Special Report
Tirana, April 1, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
The new drillings carried out by Bankers Petroleum Albania Ltd, have caused an uncontrolled natural gas leak today (photo).
The gas has exploded in a well in the area of Marinza, a few km away from Fier, where drilling operations were taking place, sources from the ministry of Environment confirm from IBNA. The same sources said that no injured people are reported, but the damages are significant. The operational staff and security of Bankers Petroleum, in cooperation with the local government, Albpetrol and state police, have taken measures including the evacuation of residents in the area that has been affected. Classes were suspended in the school of the village, because it’s very close to the area of the blast.
Operations continue to stop the leak, to return the residents in their homes and then to start operations in order to clean the affected area.
Specialists of oil industry note that the drilling of the well has brought an increase of the pressure of water wells that are located in the homes near it.
What happened in Marinza
Today, around 6 am, many people in the suburbs of Fier, woke up frightened from the massive explosion of gas, but also from small blasts around the initial source. In a few minutes, there were lots of small explosions around the area and near several homes. According to the Canadian company, everything happened after a technical problem. After a well was drilled, inert materials have started to emerge on the surface along with mud, water and gas. All of this due to the explosion that took place around 1400 meters deep.
People were frightened and several of them fled for fear of poisoning.
The company tried to calm the situation down, by saying that the gas was not damaging and not poisoning, because it has not been released from hydro carbons.
Local authorities say that the analysis of the underground and of the environment will be made in order to determine the level of pollution and whether it’s a poison or not.
Ministry of Defence sent 10 specialists in the oil rich area of Patos-Marinza. Eight chemistry specialists and two specialists of the Laboratory of Armed Forces are there to monitor the situation.
60 families living near the oil wells have been evacuated. But several families have not been willing to leave their homes for fear of possible looting. Operations continue to stop the leak and to return the residents to their homes and then start the operation for the cleansing of the affected area.
Ministry of Environment demands the suspension of the company’s activity
Environment Inspectorate suspended today the activity of the Canadian company “Bankers Petroleum” after the gas explosions that took place at well no. 8 in the area of Marinza in Fier. The Environment Inspectorate said that it has ordered the suspension of the activity of Bankers Petroleum until the causes of the explosion are clarified.
“The full suspension of the activity until all measures are taken to treat the wastes and not allow their disposal in ecological holes. The restart of activity will not be allowed until these demands are met”, says the official statement of the Environment Inspectorate.
Gjiknuri: Bankers will be asked for explanations
Minister of Energy, Damian GJiknuri visited today the village of Marinza after the explosion of gas in the oil well in the area where Canadian company Bankers Petroleum is operating. He said that explanations will be sought from the company for the blasts that endangered the people. The minister closely inspected the situation and inquired on the concerns of the residents over the damages caused by the gas blast.
The problems that didn’t start today
Residents of several areas in the villages of Fier have constantly complained that several explosions taken place during the exploitation of oil wells by Bankers Petroleum, have damaged their homes.
But, on its part, the company has rejected their claims.
Every once and a while, residents of Zharra village have held protests.
The company has responded by claiming that the damages in houses and businesses have not been caused by their drillings but by seismic movements. But, the residents say that if the damages come from earthquakes, they were provoked by the company’s drilling. /ibna/