Bankers Petroleum says venting at Albanian oil field under control

Wed Apr 1, 2015 9:57am EDT
 
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TIRANA, April 1 (Reuters) - Canada's Bankers Petroleum has brought under control the venting of sweet gas, mud and sand at a well at its Albanian oil field of Patos-Marinza, it said on Wednesday.

No-one was reported injured when the release happened as a well was drilled at the field east of the town of Fier, southern Albania, early on Wednesday. Some 60 families were evacuated at the first signs of escaping gas.

TV footage showed two fountains formed of gas, mud and sand rising into the air, and muddy water coming out of the ground in the streets of a nearby village and the yards of houses.

"There is no longer a release," a Bankers spokesman told Reuters. "This is not hydrocarbon gas, it is surface gas, harmless, sweet and non-poisonous."

Bankers usually has to drill down to 1,300 metres to reach oil layers in Patos-Marinza, but Wednesday's well had been drilled to just 500 metres when the venting occurred, the spokesman said.

Energy Minister Damian Gjiknuri has visited the site, an Albanian energy ministry spokesman said.

"The minister asked that the residents return to their homes as soon as possible and agreed with the company it would cover the costs of any damages that might emerge from the evaluation on the ground," he added. (Reporting By Benet Koleka; Editing by Pravin Char)