Strong explosions were recorded near Azerbaijani gas platforms in the Caspian Sea just days after the ocean was on fire off the coast of Mexico. SOCAR, the state-owned energy company, said all its platforms were safe, and continued working as usual, amid media reports of the fire.
Azerbaijan's Oil Workers' Rights Protection Committee had said that a fire had broken out at the Umid gas field at an old exploration site. Denying this, Ibrahim Ahmadov, a spokesperson for SOCAR, later confirmed to the local news agency, that the site of the blast took was about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the Umid gas field. The capital city of Baku is located about 45 miles (75 kilometers) from the blast site.
Analyzing preliminary available information, SOCAR said that cause of the explosion was likely a mud volcano. Azerbaijan has hundreds of mud volcanoes, Mark Tingay, a mud volcano expert at the University of Adelaide, Australia told The Guardian. He also tweeted a map of their location around the country and its coast.
So, first, Azerbaijan is the home of mud volcanoes, and has hundreds of them.— Mark Tingay (@CriticalStress_) July 5, 2021
My Google Earth mud volcano map of Azerbaijan gives you and idea of just how ludicrously many mud volcanoes there are both onshore and offshore. pic.twitter.com/m5m3yAPWSV
Using the publicly captured videos of the explosion, he was also able to guess which of these mud volcanoes might have erupted.
That footage from Baku is right out into the Caspian, and and so we can draw a rough area of where that footage is looking, out to ~50km distance.— Mark Tingay (@CriticalStress_) July 5, 2021
I think it is too close to be Qum Daniz. So, if it is a known mud volcano, the most likely candidate looks to be Makarov Bank. pic.twitter.com/ulZlQqPSNu
A mud volcano spews out mud and flammable gas. It is likely that the gas caught fire on the way up leading to the explosion.
Around 9:30 am today, SOCAR tweeted that they sent their staff to investigate the fire and the team found a mud volcano near the Dashli island, about 18 miles (30 kilometers) off the coast. The team has now extinguished the fire.
Offshore fields are important contributors to gas that Azerbaijan exports to Europe. The region is home to some of the new projects that oil majors have initiated and will make it impossible to reach the targets set by the Paris Climate Accord.
In 2015, a fire on an Azerbaijani oil rig killed 31 people.