Even as Mumbai fights the after-effects of an oil slick from two ships colliding, HT has learnt a greater threat to the city’s coast was avoided in the nick of time — twice.
A sub-sea gas pipeline, owned and run by British Gas, has repeatedly leaked. The latest leakage happened on July 20 this year. The last leak occurred almost exactly a year ago. Both times, the leakage was spotted and stopped.
Aware of the disastrous consequences of the recent oil spill in the US, Indian authorities are not taking any chances and have pulled up British Gas. The multinational operates the Panna-Mukta oil and gas fields.
The economic loss is already hurting — the latest oil spill has cost British Gas, along with Reliance Industries and ONGC, the other developers, an estimated Rs 600 crore.
Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD) — a government body responsible for laying down safety and security norms for oil and gas installations in the country — has sought an explanation, asking British Gas to take strict measures to prevent such leakages in future.
“We have reviewed the first incident report and find that strict preventive measures need to be at place to avoid recurrence of such incidents,” a July 30 OISD letter to British Gas India’s Exploration Head Peter Thompson said.
“Investigations are on to find what went wrong,” a senior British Gas official said. “The rough seas have delayed fixing the problem.” A senior ONGC official pegged the loss at Rs 18-20 crore per day and said a fault in the hose assembly of the sub-sea pipeline carrying oil from the Panna-Mukta fields had resulted in the oil spill.