View point from Canada Hill overlooking Miri city.

KUCHING: The Sarawak Petroleum Contractors Association (Speca) has asked Miri residents not to enter abandoned oil well sites for their own safety as one location around Canada Hill in the city is believed to be emitting gas.

Its president Datuk Rahman Lariwoo today said this was because members of the public had found a hole foaming, believed to be leaking liquefied natural gas at one of the sites of an abandoned oil well in the area recently.

“Actually, the discovery does not show that there are still sources of oil and gas around Miri city but it is probably a leakage from the waste materials of an abandoned oil well and is hazardous to the public,” he said during a press conference here.

He said the gas leak from the abandoned oil well poses risk of explosion and the association is ready to discuss with the city’s local authorities to provide advice on the dangers to the residents there.

The association asked the government and the ministry in charge of environment in the state to identify those responsible for the oil well to repair and seal the gas or oil leak.

Rahman said Speca also suggested that those responsible should be involved in identifying and fencing all the 624 sites of abandoned oil wells around the area and to warn the public to avoid these places.

“Speca, which has many oil exploration experts, is also ready to submit a proposal paper to the government and the parties involved to repair and seal the leak,” he said.

He also said it was still unclear who was responsible for the abandoned oil wells in the Canada Hills but the area had been explored by Shell since 1910 and had produced up to eight million barrels of oil.

He said the work of fencing all 624 abandoned oil wells was not estimated to cost a lot but the work of repairing and sealing the wells involved would incur higher expenses.

“The cost of properly sealing an oil well on land is not as high as the cost of sealing wells in the sea which can reach between RM120 million to RM150 million per well because it requires the use of many vessels,” he said, adding that this leak could recur if the containers of these oil wells are not securely sealed. – Bernama