A month on, Assam gas well continues to blaze; likely to be doused by July 15
The well at OIL’s Baghjan oil field in Assam had a blow out - uncontrolled release of gas and oil condensate - on May 27 during a work over operation and caught fire on June 9, killing two firefighters and destroying 13 houses located close by.Updated: Jul 09, 2020 19:18 IST
It has been exactly a month since an Oil India Limited’s (OIL) natural gas well caught fire in Assam’s Tinsukia district but it continues to blaze despite efforts to control it. Officials had expected the fire to be put out by July 7 but the firefighting operations have been affected by flood in the state and it is now being hoped that the blaze will be doused by July 15.
The well at the company Baghjan oil field had a blow out - uncontrolled release of gas and oil condensate - on May 27 during a work over operation and caught fire on June 9, killing two firefighters and destroying 13 houses located close by.
Since the well is located close to Dibru Saikhowa National Park and the eco-sensitive Maguri Motapung wetland, it raised concerns of damage to the environment and effect on flora and fauna. Nearly 9,000 people from the area were shifted to relief camps after the well caught fire.
Foreign experts brought in to put out the fire and plug the blow out were expected to complete the task by July 7. But floods caused by heavy rains inundated the area near the well and damaged roads and a bridge leading to the site affecting work for several days.
“Our work was progressing on schedule, but (we) lost 4-5 days of work due to flooding of the area and damage to the roads and the bridge. Now we hope to complete the task of putting out the fire and plugging the blow out by July 13 to July 15,” said OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika.
At present workers are engaged in removing 200 drill pipes of 9 metres length each from near the well and also attempting to clear the work over rig which had fallen over the exposed gas well.
“Once both these tasks are complete, most likely in 4-5 days, we will be able to approach the task of capping the well for which all equipment and tools are ready. If everything goes as per plan, the entire operation of capping the well could be over in 5-6 hours,” said Hazarika.
Till now OIL has released nearly Rs 9 crore as compensation and relief for the affected families. Assessment of damage for compensation done by the district authorities has covered 1,115 families.
While the blow out and fire took place in one well, protests and blockades by various organisations have affected production work at all the 22 gas and crude oil wells in Baghjan oil field.
According to an OIL release issued on Thursday, since May 27 there has been a cumulative production loss of 9956 MT crude oil and 14.37 MMSCM of natural gas (valued at nearly Rs 30 crores).
Meanwhile, separate studies are underway to assess environmental impact in the area because of the blow out and fire, monitoring of air quality and noise level, bioremediation of sludge and seismological study to find out possible tremors in the areas.