Massive fire at Assam's Baghjan oil field that suffered gas leak 2 weeks ago; need 4 weeks to safely cap well, says Oil India Ltd
A massive fire engulfed the damaged Baghjan oil well on Tuesday which has been spewing gas uncontrollably for the last 14 days in Assam's Tinsukia district, official sources said.
A massive fire engulfed the damaged Baghjan oil well on Tuesday which has been spewing gas uncontrollably for the last 14 days in Assam's Tinsukia district, official sources said. The state's chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has requested Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to deploy the Indian Air Force for controlling the fire.
No casualties were reported. However, a fire fighter from ONGCL sustained minor injuries during fire fighting operations.
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.
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. OIL has estimated a timeline of four weeks for fully capping the well.
"Post the incident, emergency meetings are underway with ALERT Team. They have expressed that it is now a safe environment for working and are confident that the situation can be controlled and the well can be capped safely. The situation demands arrangement of large quantities of water, installation of high discharge pumps and removal of debris. All the operations as per ALERT will take about 4 weeks. Efforts will be made to reduce this time frame as much as possible," an OIL press release said.
OIL also reported "violent protests around the well site.
"There are violent protests around the well site. Request was made to Chief Secretary, Govt. of Assam and District Administration, Tinsukia for maintaining law and order so that the experts are allowed to enter the site and start the well control operations. All officials of OIL / ONGC are being evacuated from nearby areas. Once the situation is normal, the experts from ALERT and the staff of OIL / ONGC will move to the site."
Oil India PRO Tridip Hazarika in Duliajan said, "We are confused and worried about the incident. There was enough water under the well. Our experts have the means to douse the fire and hopefully it will be under control within 2-3 days."
He said that hot weather may have led to some spark from the heat generated on the pipes above the rig. "Wet weather for all these days and our water blanket was keeping the well from igniting from these many days, sudden hot weather may have led to a spark," Hazarika told Firstpost.
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 Sonowal spoke to Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan over the phone regarding the incident.
"The chief minister has already directed to deploy fire & emergency services, army and police officials at the site to control the situation. The chief minister also directed district admin to ensure safety of people and appealed to local people to not panic," it said.
The Indian Express reported that the chief minister has also sought the air force's help to control the fire.
A major blowout happened at the oil well, next to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, following which gas started flowing out uncontrollably.
The district administration had evacuated thousands of people living nearby due to spouting of natural gas and condensed droplets.
With inputs from PTI
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