June 5, 2020 / 3:37 PM / 2 months ago

Siberian oil firm calls in army artillery to quell well fire

MOSCOW, June 5 (Reuters) - A small Russian oil company said on Friday it had called in the army to fire anti-tank artillery rounds at a wellhead at an oil field in Siberia to try to put out a fire that has been raging since late last month.

The oil well in Siberia’s Irkutsk region, operated by a subsidiary of the Irkutsk Oil Company, caught fire on May 30. The regional government convened an emergency meeting on Friday to work out how to put it out.

“We decided to bring in the military’s artillery forces who have to shoot at the wellhead for the successful and operational closure of the well,” Andrei Bogdanov, head of production security for the Irkutsk Oil Company, told the meeting.

Bogdanov said soldiers were expected to arrive in a day or two and that the company hoped the fire would be put out by Monday.

The Defence Ministry said a military plane was flying in soldiers who planned to use an MT-12 anti-tank “Rapira” gun to shoot the wellhead in order to help to seal the well, the ministry’s Zvezda TV channel reported.

Officials say no one has been hurt in the fire and that it poses no threat to nearby forests. The nearest settlement is 100 kilometres (62 miles) away. (Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Olesya Astakhova; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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