Nigeria Rig Fire Update

Chevron Corp. doesn’t expect to put out a fire that started last month at its offshore Funiwa field in Nigeria within the next 30 days, Radio Nigeria reported.

A Transocean Ltd. rig being brought in to drill a relief well to tackle the fire will arrive in three to four days, Andrew Fawthrop, chief executive officer of the company’s Nigerian unit, told the state-owned service. Drilling the well will take about 30 days, he said.

The blaze began in the middle of January while Chevron was drilling a gas-exploration well at Funiwa, about six miles (9.6 kilometers) from the coast. The fire forced the company to cut output of about 2,000 barrels a day at its North Apoi platform.

Chevron has been slow to put out the fire, which has caused spills in fishing areas of Koluama in the southern Bayelsa state, said Nnimmo Bassey, executive director of Environmental Rights Action, the Nigerian affiliate of Friends of the Earth.

“For everyday that the gas keeps burning, the leakage is polluting the environment and affecting the lives of thousands who rely on the ocean for their livelihood,” he said today by phone from Lagos. Two workers went missing in the Funiwa accident.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and the fifth- biggest source of U.S. oil imports. Chevron, the third-largest producer in Nigeria, operates a joint venture in which it holds 40 percent and the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. owns 60 percent.