Chevron Says Two Workers Still Missing as Fire Burns Off Nigeria

Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. oil company, said a search and rescue operation continues for two contractors missing after a fire yesterday at a rig off the coast of Nigeria.

The accident happened at the K.S. Endeavor rig, which was drilling a natural-gas exploration well in the Funiwa Field about six miles (10 kilometers) off the coast in about 40 feet of water, San Ramon, California-based Chevron said in a statement today. The rig is operated by FODE Drilling Nigeria Ltd., Chevron said.

There was a possible failure of surface equipment during drilling work that led to a loss of well control, based on initial indications, Chevron said. The rig has partially collapsed and the well is burning, the company said, adding that it can’t estimate how long the fire will continue.

The company said 152 workers on the rig and a related barge were evacuated safely, are onshore and have received medical examinations. Two workers are hospitalized because of minor burns, and others are being kept for observation, Chevron said.

A sheen estimated at about 13 barrels is visible near the well, according to the company. Chevron said production from the North Apoi platform, which had total output of about 2,000 barrels a day, is still shut because of its proximity to the accident.

Chevron said it’s mobilizing Transocean Ltd.’s Baltic rig to start drilling a relief well, and the completion of such a well “could extend for some period.” Other experts and specialists are being sent to assist, the company said.

Chevron said it has a 40 percent interest in the well, while the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. has 60 percent. Chevron rose 1 cent to $106.73 after the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Exxon Mobil Corp. is the largest U.S. oil company.

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