Assam Baghjan well fire tamed 110 days after blowout

Fire atop Baghjan Well No 5 was tamed after the experts managed to cut off the supply to the well by diverting the gas to two controlled flare pits. Photo: Special arrangement  

The flame atop the Baghjan Well No 5 in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district has been tamed, 110 days after the well had a disastrous blowout.

Also read: OIL engineer dies at Assam's Baghjan blowout site

A blowout is uncontrolled escape of gas at great speed, usually due to equipment failure.

Oil India Limited (OIL) and foreign experts on Sunday managed to divert the gas to two controlled flare pits. This cut off the supply to the well head for the fire to die out.

“This was a complex process for reducing the surface level well head pressure. Simply put, the fire was doused by successfully diverting the gas coming out of the blowout well head. Because there is no fuel, there is no fire,” OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika said from the exploration major’s headquarters at Duliajan in Dibrugarh district.

Also read: Battling blowout, OIL incurs loss of ₹248.61 crore

Temporary relief

“This is a temporary relief till we are able to kill the well,” he said.

The gas was diverted to the flare pits at 8:40 a.m. after closing the blowout preventer — a device vital for killing a crude oil or gas well — that was placed on the well head on August 17 for a successful capping after a few failed attempts.

“Well head pressures and related parameters are being monitored constantly and once the whole system is stabilised, the next line of action will be undertaken for well-killing operation,” an expert engaged in disaster control said.

Also read: Baghjan blowout: panel faults OIL on safety

With the flame tamed, OIL officials hope to be over with the killing of the well soon. This entails injecting the killing fluid — a viscous cement mud — through the inlet of the blowout preventer at very high pressure to a depth of 3.5 km.

The fluid takes up to 10 hours to inject and is expected to plug subterranean perforations and block the upward movement of natural gas and associated condensates.

Three OIL employees killed

Well No 5, one of 22 crude oil and natural gas wells in the Baghjan Oilfield close to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, had a blowout on May 27. It burst into flames on June 9.

Watch | All about the Assam oil well fire

The well has so far killed three OIL employees — two firemen who died fighting the flame and a 25-year-old electrical engineer who was electrocuted on September 9 while checking cables at the site.

Three of the six foreign experts engaged for disaster control had also sustained injuries during a failed capping operation.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 5:17:01 PM |

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