Oil India Limited well in Assam catches massive fire 13 days after blowout
By Vivek Raj | Galatta | Jun 10, 2020, 12:15 pm
Assam's Tinsukia district has been witnessing shocking scenes as a natural gas well of Oil India Limited (OIL) caught fire on Tuesday afternoon after it had a blowout on May 27. The fire, which is said to have occurred "accidentally", happened 13 days back, and began dispersing gas and other related elements, after which three disaster control experts arrived at the spot a day later at Baghjan near the Dibru-Saikhow Naional Park, to put a stop to the blowout.
The reason for the burst off has been described to be machinery failure on most occasions, which is crude oil or gas from a production well getting released uncontrollably. Officials at OIL have said the cause of the fire is unknown as yet and is said to have broken out at 1:40PM. An OIL spokesperson issued a statement saying, "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. The blowout will take four weeks to control once the fire is contained,".
With over 2,000 people in the nearby villages evacuated, OIL officials have maintained the stance that the threat is minimal with locals saying some houses have already suffered extensive damages. Two people have been declared dead in the shocking incident with their bodies being recovered on Tuesday, as per latest reports.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had gotten in touch with Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan immediately upon being notified of the incident and has sought for the Centre's intervention. The Tinsukia district administration too have been instructed to adhere to providing safety to the affected people including relief. The blowout of the OIL well is said to have happened after a Gujarat-based firm had attempted to extract gas from a depth of 3,279 metres.
An FIR against OIL has since been filed by environment activist, Apurba Ballav Goswami, in eastern's Assam's Golaghat district' Baghjan police outpost. In the FIR filed, Mr. Gowsami questioned OIL's statements and said the drilling operations in the well had been outsourced with no measures taken or implemented to prevent the possibility of a blowout. He said, "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,".
Other environmentalists along with academics, wildlife experts, social activists and journalists too have cited concerns over the results of the blowout on the environment as the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park is said to be a biodiversity hotspot and the Bahgjan oilfield was in the vicinity of the Maguri-Motapung wetland, which is an eco-sensitive zone, known for birds that migrate and feral horses. Many villagers in the area are said to be dependent for their livelihood on this wetland and the Dangori and Dibru rivers.