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13 days after blowout, Oil India Limited well in Assam catches fire

The blaze at the Assam Oil India Limited’s oil well is so massive that it can be seen from a distance of more than 2km, eyewitnesses said. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The natural gas well of Oil India Limited (OIL) in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district that had a blowout on May 27 caught fire on Tuesday afternoon.

The “accidental fire” happened 13 days after the well started spewing gas and associated elements and a day after three disaster control experts reached the spot — Baghjan near the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park — to work on taming the blowout.

Machinery failure usually leads to a blowout, which is an uncontrolled release of crude oil or gas from a production well.

OIL officials said the cause of the fire, which broke out at 1.40 p.m., was yet to be ascertained. None, except a fireman of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited, was injured, they added.

Smoke rises to the sky following an explosion at an Oil India Limited well in Assam’s Tinsukia district on June 9, 2020.

Smoke rises to the sky following an explosion at an Oil India Limited well in Assam’s Tinsukia district on June 9, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AFP

“The well caught fire while the clearing operations were on. There are violent protests around the site. A request has been made to the State government for maintaining law and order so that experts are allowed to enter the site and start well control operations,” an OIL spokesperson said.

“The blowout will take four weeks to control once the fire is contained,” the statement said.

OIL appoints consultant to study environmental impact of gas well blowout in Assam

Locals said some houses were damaged in the vicinity of the well, but OIL officials said the threat was minimal since all the 1,610 families in villages around the spot have been shifted to a safe distance.

Immediately after the incident, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal alerted Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and sought the Centre’s urgent intervention. He also directed the Tinsukia district administration to take urgent steps to provide safety and relief to the affected locals.

OIL may bring in U.S. experts to contain gas well blowout in Assam

The blowout occurred when a Gujarat-based firm, given the task of exploration and production, tried to extract gas from a depth of 3,729 metres.

FIR against OIL

An environment activist in eastern Assam’s Golaghat on Monday filed a first information report against OIL.

In the FIR filed at the Baghjan police outpost electronically, Apurba Ballav Goswami said OIL’s statements made it clear that drilling operations had been outsourced without any arrangement to prevent a blowout.

“The wastage of natural resources, contamination of the environment around and impact on the local people are due to the criminal negligence of OIL and the company it outsourced the operation of the well,” Mr. Goswami said.


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Printable version | Oct 29, 2021 3:37:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/13-days-after-blowout-oil-india-limited-well-in-assam-catches-fire/article31786950.ece

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