TIRANA, April 1 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
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)