Blowout in Assam gas well may take a few weeks before it’s under control
Gas and condensate is flowing uncontrollably from an Oil India Limited (OIL) natural gas well in Assam’s Tinsukia district since a blowout a week ago, and officials believe it could take a few more weeks to bring the situation under control.Updated: Jun 02, 2020 20:32 IST
Gas and condensate is flowing uncontrollably from an Oil India Limited (OIL) natural gas well in Assam’s Tinsukia district since a blowout a week ago, and officials believe it could take a few more weeks to bring the situation under control.
The blowout, or uncontrolled release of natural gas or oil from a well when pressure control systems fail, has already led to the evacuation of 650 families as a safety measure.
Groundwork is being done to bring the blowout at Baghjan well under control, but it could take a few more weeks to get logistics and experts in place to stop the uncontrolled flow of gas and condensate, the low-density mixture of hydrocarbon liquids generally found with natural gas.
In 2005, it took nearly 90 days and the help of foreign experts to control a blaze at an abandoned oil well of OIL at Dikom in Dibrugarh district of Assam.
The blowout at Baghjan occurred at 10.30 am on May 27, while work was underway to produce gas from a new oil and gas reservoir at a depth of 3,729 metres.
“The operation to contain the blowout requires a large amount of water and lot of heavy machinery. Therefore, it will take several days to put everything in place before the actual effort to control the well can start,” OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika said.
A water reservoir is being dug near the well to place two 2,500-gallon pumps and a pipeline is being laid from a nearby river to ensure continuous supply of water. OIL and Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) personnel are pumping water to the well to minimise the chances of a fire.
“It has been assessed that approach to the vicinity of the well would not be safe due to gas gushing at high pressure. Hence, necessary equipment is being mobilised and fit-for-purpose equipment is being fabricated at OIL workshop,” OIL said in a statement on Tuesday.
Help from several foreign firms is being sought to contain the blowout. OIL said on Tuesday experts from Singapore-based Alert Disaster Control could reach the site in the next few days.
A retired senior OIL executive, who declined to be named, said: “The process to control a blowout requires lot of heavy equipment, which will have to be brought from other parts of the country, as well as services of global experts in dealing with such situations. In 2005, it took more than a month to bring things under control. This time could it could take longer.”
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal dialled Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan for the second time in a week on Tuesday and sought foreign experts to plug the natural gas flow at Baghjan well.
Sonowal also sought adequate compensation for families affected by the blowout. His office said an expert team from Singapore would reach Assam on Wednesday to lend its expertise.