Fire rages after blowout at Kazakhstan hydrocarbon field

An exploration well in Kazakhstan’s South Karaturun field is still ablaze after a sudden burst in reservoir pressure led to a blowout which caught fire.

Kazakh privately held producer Buzachi Neft reported the fire in the Mangistau region early on Friday morning, but does not know how long it will take to bring it under control, according to the country’s Emergency Situations Ministry.

The blowout of a mixture of gas and water occurred when a drilling contractor was“lifting a drillbit tool from the hole” about 1100 metres deep, the ministry said.

Firefighters discovered a 10-metre high blaze but no casualties were reported by the drilling contractor.

Due to the remote location of the well in an open steppe, firefighters had limited water and discovered that the blaze had destroyed the well’s christmas tree and blowout preventer.

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On Monday, the department said that after three days alight, the violent release of the hydrocarbon mixture resulted “in the collapse of rocks around the wellhead, forming a crater with a diameter of about 15 metres and an estimated depth of two to three metres”.

The department said that because it would be impossible to “seal the flowing well, extinguishing the flame has been deemed impractical as firstly, it could lead to the gas contamination of the area and possible explosion and secondly, gas finding other ways to escape from the damaged well”.

The operator told firefighters it intends to fill the crater with heavy drilling mud, which it is preparing while assembling a line for its delivery.

Buzachi Neft is owned by Kazakh oil businessman Murat Safin, according to the Kazakh edition of the Forbes Magazine. The company has licences for three Karaturun fields in the Mangistau region.

The well, Number 303, is the third out of five wildcats the company planned to spud between 2022 and 2024 to test the productivity of the Jurassic formations at the South Karaturun field to a depth of 1200 metres.

According to a Buzachi Neft, South Karaturun is between 30 kilometres and 60 kilometres from the developed fields Kalamkas, North Buzachi and Karazhanbas, with the nearest settlement, Akshimrau, 90 kilometres away.

Buzachi Neft reported production of about 6400 barrels of oil per day and 5 million cubic metres of gas between January and April this year, according to the country’s Energy Ministry.