Exploration - Production | - Algeria

Jean Riemer, wounded at Hassi Messaoud

27 July 1956 - in Algeria. Oil gushes for the first time on the Hassi Messaoud field, where CFP-Algérie (subsidiary of CFP, future Total group) and SN Repal (subsidiary of BRP, future Elf group) operate jointly.

Aged 28, Jean Riemer, has been a master driller at Hassi Messoud for SN Repal for the past 4 years.

The sudden and unprepared spurt of oil gives rise to an immediate flashover and explosion. Jean Riemer, in shorts and bare shirt - like most of the men working on the site, dives into the furnace and quickly closes the special valves at the wellhead. He is horribly burned. He died a few weeks later in hospital from his burns.

An inscription will be affixed to the site of this first well "Jean Riemer well".

"It is 4:30 a.m. on Friday, July 27, 1956. The camp sleeps in the peace of the dawn; suddenly cries resound, a deaf rumour that wins, swells little by little, wakes me up, I go out in the diffuse light of the early morning, still vaguely unconscious. Although they have not yet exerted any action in the South, I immediately believe in an attack on the camp by a band of fellaghas.

At the bend in an alley, wavering, a man comes towards me: my stupor is great because I think I recognize Riemer with whom I had dinner and joked last night, a ghostly Riemer, metamorphosed: "You don't recognize me," he says, "an accident has just happened, an explosion, we are burned.

We immediately run with Jean to the canteen, supporting our dazed and staggering comrade. Hernandez, our nurse, is there; he confides to me that we have little morphine and that two other men from the station have just arrived, burned also superficially but widely. After the explosion, a flame rose from the floor surrounding those who were there, licking them cruelly. Unfortunately, some of them rolled in the sand of a nearby barkhane* in an attempt both to extinguish the fire and to relieve themselves of the brutal bite in contact with the fresh sand...".

The rest of this testimony can be found in the attached PDF document, article from Rahla, Bulletin of the Amicale des Sahariens, 1975.

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