Massive fire breaks out at Assam’s gas-spewing Baghjan oil well

The blaze at the Oil India Ltd's oil well is so massive that it can be seen from a distance of more than two kilometres, eyewitnesses said

Assam, oil well blowout, gas leak, oil leak, Oil India Limited
A major blowout happened at the oil well, next to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, following which gas started flowing out uncontrollably since May 27. Photo: Twitter

A massive fire engulfed the damaged Baghjan oil well on Tuesday (June 9) which has been spewing gas uncontrollably for the last 14 days since May 27 in Assam’s Tinsukia district, official sources said.

The blaze at the Oil India Ltd’s oil well is so massive that it can be seen from a distance of more than two kilometres, eyewitnesses said.

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Three experts from Singaporean firm Alert Disaster Control were at the blowout site and some equipment was being removed when the fire broke out in the afternoon.

A company spokesperson said no casualty or injury has been reported so far.
Firefighters have rushed to the the spot and efforts are on to douse it, officials said.

The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, they said.

In a series of tweets, the Chief Minister’s Office said Sarabananda Sonowal spoke to Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan over the phone regarding the incident.

“The CM has already directed to deploy fire & emergency services, army and police officials at the site to control the situation. The CM also directed district admin to ensure safety of people and appealed to local people to not panic,” it said.

Related news: Assam oil well blowout: Foreign experts reach site; probe ordered over 5 deaths

A major blowout happened at the oil well, next to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, following which gas started flowing out uncontrollably since May 27.

The district administration had evacuated thousands of people living nearby due to spouting of natural gas and condensate droplets.

Oil India Limited (OIL) on Monday (June 8) said that three experts from a Singaporean firm have reached the natural gas well at Baghjan in Assam.

The oil exploration major said in a statement that foreign experts of Singapore-based Alert Disaster Control reached the Duliajan town, where the field headquarters of OIL is based, in the early hours on Monday.

oil well blowout, Assam, protests, gas leak, oil leak
The Assam forest department has constituted an expert committee comprising government officials and scientists to assess the impact of the blowout. Photo: Partha Sarathi Das

The team comprising experts will assist the public sector undertaking (PSU) in order to plug the blowout in the gas well in the Tinsukia district. The foreign experts were briefed by the representatives of OIL about the progress in the oil well control operation.

After the preliminary discussion and the de-briefing session, the experts along with the OIL team’s representatives left for the Baghjan well at 12 noon. OIL claimed that the foreign experts complimented the preparatory works and that they are confident of controlling the oil leakage at the earliest.

The team emphasised that the safety of the local residents in the area as well as the technical team working at the oil well site will be their primary concern while carrying out the operations.

Regarding the status of the repair works, OIL stated that both vertical and horizontal lift mechanism of the hydraulically driven mechanical transporter to be utilized for the well control operation has been tested and completed.

Related news: Assam: Delay in plugging oil well blowout threatens lives, ecology

The final assembling process for the task is in progress. Necessary arrangements for making a water umbrella for the well control operation are going on.

The digging of the water reservoir as well as the preparation of placement of high capacity water pumps are also in progress. The PSU major said that it has appointed an environment consultant to assess the impact of the oil blowout on the Dibru- Saikhowa National Park and its surrounding areas in the district.

The blast which occurred on May 27 continues to leak oil and gas since then putting the lives of humans as well as wildlife in danger. Photo: Partha Sarathi Das

After the district magistrate ordered the magisterial enquiry, OIL also engaged a NABET-accredited consultant to conduct an environment impact assessment study in and around Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, Maguri Motapung Beel and nearby villages.

The study will assess the impact of the oil blowout on terrestrial, aquatic ecosystems.

OIL has also engaged TERI for the bio-remediation of impact of the oil blowout on environment. A site assessment was conducted by officials of OIL and TERI.

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