by Indy Staff, 03 September 2014.
Members of the local indigenous community inspect the hydrocarbon spill from the gas leak (Photo via Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén)
State oil company YPF said it had stopped a significant gas leak at Loma Campana, part of the Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas field in Neuquén province. The leak lasted for 16 hours, and caused a fire, though no one was injured in the incident.
According to local press, the incident began at 2am on Tuesday morning when a surge of compressed gas broke the main gas pipe during routine drilling in one of the wells. It occurred as operators hit the conventional Quintuco gas reserve at a depth of 2,200 metres while drilling to reach the Vaca Muerta shale reserve a further 600 metres underground.
As a safety measure, personnel operating within a radius of 800 metres around the gas leak were evacuated.
According to a press release from YPF: “There were no injuries of any type, nor material damage. Preventative measures and controls were taken to remove any source of ignition so as to minimize the possibility of fires.”
The company said it was investigating the cause of the leak.
The pressure of the gas leak sprayed hydrocarbon and chemical residue up to 13 metres high, covering the surrounding area, which will now be treated. Provincial Environment Secretary Ricardo Esquivel said the leak had an impact on the local environment, though added that this was not severe.
However, local indigenous communities, which have been protesting against the exploitation of the Vaca Muerta field on their land, condemned authorities for playing down the incident.
“There is a large toxic cloud [of gas] and a big oil spill,” declared a statement released yesterday by Mapuche community lof Campo Maripe. “The province is not equipped, either in terms of infrastructure or controls to prevent this type of situation.
“Here at the foot of the well that exploded we remain anxious, trying to save our animals that today live among the wells. We know that reporting the death of dozens of animals can sound insignificant compared to the millions being extracted from our land, but it is destroying our community and economy.”
“The cover everything up,” added community leader Albino Campo. “Nobody explains anything, nobody saw anything. We are here every day seeing this – nothing is safe about what they are doing.”
Source: Argentina Independent