The Soviet Union Detonated a Nuclear Bomb to Put Out a Burning Gas Well

The fire from the well raged for 1074 days.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Did you know the Soviet Union at one point detonated a nuclear bomb to put out a burning gas well? Well, it happened.

The experiment was conducted in the autumn of 1966 in a desert area of Uzbekistan. An ignition well from a well at the Urta-Bulak gas field caused a fire that raged for 1074 days losing plenty of gas reserves in the process.

The field was 100 miles southeast of ancient Bukhara and no matter what the engineers did, they could not stop the fire. At one point, they attempted to divert the gas flow which just resulted in even more flaring blowouts. 

That's when they decided to close the well with an underground nuclear explosion. The experiment resulted in the first time that the Soviet authorities detonated a peaceful nuclear blast and the first time that such an explosion has been used to quell a gas‐well fire.

Making the nuclear explosion at the right spot was no easy task, however. The engineers had to drill a hole inclined toward the blazing gas well. Luckily, they did so successfully and the fire was finally extinguished. Watch this video to learn more and see the blazing gas well in action.

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