The safety of India's largest onland oil producing fields at Barmer in Rajasthan could be at stake following the recent air crash at Uttarlai near the oil producing fields.
Flagging the issue before the government, NRI billionaire Anil Agarwal and promoter of Cairn India - which,
along with state-owned ONGC, is developing the Rajasthan oil fields - has asked the government to declare the oil fields area that is situated close to the Indian airforce base as a no fly zone.
In a letter to the oil ministry, Cairn wrote, "the air-crash near Uttarlai on 12 February, 2013 was at a distance of less than 4-5 kms from the Mangla oil processing terminal and is a matter of safety concern to Cairn and ONGC as the impact of any such accident has the potential for a serious health, safety and environmental hazard."
The Mangla oil processing terminal (MPT) and Mangala oil well heads are spread over 4,549 acres and are at an aerial distance of only 13 kms from the Uttarlai Air Force Station.
Cairn India and ONGC have so far invested over $4 billion in the project. Today, Mangala Processing Terminal (MPT) at Barmer, Rajasthan, processes oil from Mangala, Bhagyam and other satellite fields.
With the Aishwarya field likely to commence production soon, crude production is expected to increase further. Further expansion activities are also in progress at MPT and with recent exploration approvals accorded by the Centre, Cairn is due to substantially increase its oil processing capacity and cater to various refineries across India.
While stating that the Indian Air Force, Uttarlai, was ensuring that its jets do not fly over the MPT area, Cairn India however said that in view of potential repercussions of IAF and even other civilian aircrafts entering the air space above the MPT and the Mangala well heads, it would recommend that MPT and Mangala well pads enveloping an area of 4,549 acres be declared a "No Fly Zone" to the ministry of defence and the ministry of civil aviation.