World News

Russia fires anti-tank gun at oil well to put out blaze

Flames and smoke rise from the site of a fire at the Yarakta oil field, operated by a subsidiary of the Irkutsk Oil Company, in Irkutsk region, Russia, in this screen grab taken from video released June 8, 2020. Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Monday it had successfully put out a fire at a Siberian oil well after officials called in the military to shoot anti-tank artillery shells at the wellhead from a distance in order to quell the flames.

The well in Siberia’s Irkutsk region, operated by a subsidiary of the Irkutsk Oil Company, caught fire on May 30 and authorities called in the army on Friday.

Soldiers flew in an MT-12 Rapira anti-tank weapon to the remote site in Siberia and, working at night, fired rounds at the wellhead from 180 metres away in order to break it from the well, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

“This helped set up the blowout prevention equipment to then seal the well and put out the fire,” it said in a statement circulated along with footage of the operation.

Soldiers in full military body armour and helmets - as well as coronavirus face masks - could be seen dragging the heavy feet of the weapon apart in order to set it up before shooting artillery rounds.

The fire happened at a new field that accounted for just a tiny fraction of Irkutsk Oil Company’s overall output. In 2018, the company produced 9 million tonnes of oil and gas condensate.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Olesya Astakhova; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky