Conoco-Phillips "made mistakes" with rig fire

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Photo:  This photo was taken on November 11th, 2008 – Submitted

A vice-president with Conoco-Phillips has acknowledged that mistakes were made, when a natural gas well was enveloped by flames last November.

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You may remember, on November 11th, a fire broke out at the well, about 45 kilometres west of Dawson Creek, and continued to burn for 13 days.

At the time, Area residents reported the fire as being visible from the highway for days, and some had concerns about movement of fire-borne toxins through the food chain.

At a community meeting earlier this week, Conoco-Phillips officials gave about 30 residents a little more information on the fire, and admitted the company’s reaction was too slow. 

The Canadian Press quotes Conoco-Phillips vice president of well engineering and operations, Erick Reyna, as saying the fire was caused by equipment within the drill overheating. 

The rig was destroyed by the fire, though no-one was hurt, and Toxicologist Don Davies says while more than 200 chemical compounds were released into the atmosphere from the blaze, an equal number of compounds could be released from a campfire.  Davies says he doesn’t expect cattle and game in the area to suffer any long-term effects, or be unsafe to eat, though the final report isn’t due out until later in May.

Conoco-Phillips laid-off a manager and supervisor after the fire, and is conceding rig assessments and personel certification may need to happen more frequently.

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