We Didn’t Start the Fire (in the Caspian Sea), But It’s Still Burning…

Back in late August we posted about a gas well on fire in the Caspian Sea at a drilling rig in the Bulla Deniz gas field. Well guess what – 61 days later it’s still burning!
Above: Near-infrared satellite image of the burning well, seen as a red-orange spot with a bluish plume of smoke to the north. Image acquired October 15 by NASA MODIS/Terra.
The SOCAR No. 90 exploration well is reportedly around 18,000 feet deep (5,500 meters), but this part of the Caspian Sea appears to be quite shallow, unlike the site of the infamous BP / Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Fortunately we see no evidence that oil is spilling from this blazing platform owned by the Azerbaijani state oil and gas company. There are a few vague reports about firefighting efforts, but given the heat of the fire and the how long it has burned, we suspect they are waiting for it to “bridge over” and eventually go out on its own like the Hercules 265 rig did after it caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this summer.
Due to the U.S. government shutdown we cannot access higher-resolution Landsat images, but you can see an older Landsat 8 image we marked up here. You can learn more about this incident and compare the visible-light satellite image with a near-infrared image here.
Thankfully, NASA is still making MODIS imagery available and you can see twice-daily moderate resolution images of this fire and the entire world at:



Find something interesting on NASA’s Worldview site? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter!
2 replies
  1. David Manthos says:

    If you didn't get the title reference, here's a fun little video about "fires" through history. Wonder what kind of verses we could come up with for the past few decades?

Comments are closed.