I’d only been in Brunei a few days when the Rasau 17 well blew out. The escaping gas caught fire on April 25, 1989 which puts a date on this image. From the view of the roofs and the direction of the sun it looks as though I took this image from our main office in Kuala Belait which would have been 1.5 – 2 miles from the well site. Clearly later in the day as the sun is illuminating the top of the smoke cloud but still shortly after the time of ignition as the top of the mushroom cloud is still in the frame.
At this time, I was living and working in a satellite office in Lumut, 20 miles distant so we were spared the showers of soot that rained down over KB. Brunei Shell ended up providing free car washes for the KB populace as the black oily soot rained down.
By the time the fire was put out on May 8th, almost two weeks after it ignited, the drilling rig that had stood at the site had completely melted – there was nothing recognizable left, by all accounts.