Oil installation fire

Qayyarah well fire extinguished

BAGHDAD, December 27, 2016 – Iraq’s Ministry of Oil on Tuesday said its North Oil Company had extinguished the fire at Qayyarah well 68, as fires continue to rage across the like-named oilfield.

Fires at the field, located in Nineveh Province, were first spotted in May. Reports on the extent of the blaze set in motion by retreating Islamic State militants have been confusing. In September, NASA counted 20 burning oil wells. A report by CNN the following month suggested that local engineers had managed to put out six fires, with nine more to go. In early December, the network corrected its previous figures, saying there were 19 wells affected, three of which had been capped.


In its statement, the Ministry of Oil said it was “determined to extinguish all the other wells,” without giving specific numbers. Engineers interviewed by CNN back in October said it takes around a month to put out a burning oil well, adding that some 5,000 bopd were being wasted. The work is complicated by improvised explosive devices planted near the wells. According to CNN, some 120 have been identified, a number that is expected to increase.

Observes have likened the blaze to the 1991 Kuwaiti oil fires, albeit on a smaller scale. However, the burning oil wells in the tiny Gulf state were located in the desert. In Iraq, the fires directly affect the lives of the some 15,000 inhabitants of nearby Al Qayyara and present health risks for many others across villages in Nineveh.

Image: Matt Cetti-Roberts photo

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