The Enugu State Fire Service has successfully extinguished the gas flare that erupted during the drilling of a well at the Federal Estate in Ugwogo Nike, Enugu.
The incident occurred even as the state government warned against drilling wells without permission from the state Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and other relevant government agencies.
This was stated by Sam Ugwu, State Commissioner for Environment and Climate Change, during a tour of the site of the Nike incident on Sunday.
He News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the gas flare occurred around 10:30 pm on Saturday and lasted into the early hours of Sunday, causing platform operators and some residents to run for safety.
During his visit to the site, Ugwu, accompanied by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Energy and Mineral Resources, Kingsley Nnaji, thanked the firefighters, led by the Chief Fire Officer, Okwudiri Ohaa, for their prompt intervention.
According to Ugwu, the state had experienced the same gas flaring around Caritas University last year, with this latest being the second such incident.
“The government is going to investigate the incident further because we already have environmental laws. They were supposed to have submitted an application to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.
“The ministry would come here to do an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and then there would be an initiation letter, which would be issued by the ministry.
“Therefore, I advise anyone who is going to dig dirt to do the right thing to avoid this type of experience that we now have here. If it had not been for the prompt intervention of the State Firefighters, this could have caused the loss of lives and homes in the surrounding area.
“But these gas eruptions have also further confirmed Governor Peter Mbah’s statement that we have solid and liquid mineral resources in abundance in Enugu State.”
The governor had said his administration was very interested in harnessing them for the good of the people of Enugu and the nation.
Ugwu added that Enugu could not be known only as Coal City because it had gas, limestone, kaolin, gypsum and other mineral resources in abundance.
“That is why the current government is very keen to attract local and foreign investors to invest in these mineral deposits,” Mr Ugwu said.
How we did it – fire chief
Speaking on the incident, the state’s chief fire officer, Mr Ohaa, said the experience gained by the Fire Service during an accidental gas eruption around Caritas University, Nike, helped them apply the correct measure to stop the flare
“What immediately came to mind was the incident that occurred at Caritas University last year, specifically around May 24. That Caritas University incident took us approximately three weeks to resolve because we had never had an experience like that before.
“But with the support of the government that has continued to fund us for emergencies like this, we were able to postpone this one in less than eight hours.”
He warned the residents of the area to respect the military cordon and also avoid approaching the place with fire of any kind.
He, however, assured that his men would remain ashore until the flow stopped completely.
A resident of the estate, Boniface Ogbueje, told reporters that the incident caused chaos but praised the State Fire Service for saving the situation.
“We thought the rig or vehicle had a gas leak and caught fire. In the end it was not like that. The fire continued to grow and grow.
“People were running helter-skelter, but the firefighters arrived quickly and were able to control the fire after several hours. God really helped us,” she said.
Meanwhile, a staff member at Orange Drilling Company, Kamarudeen Ado, said they were taken by surprise because what they least expected was the presence of natural gas in the water being pumped.
However, he confirmed that there was no loss of life or property, while the injured were receiving treatment at a hospital.