Three foreign experts injured in blast at Assam's Baghjan oil field; capping ops to resume tomorrow, says OIL

The damaged well has been spewing gas uncontrollably since a blowout was reported at on 28 May.

FP Staff July 22, 2020 18:46:06 IST
Three foreign experts injured in blast at Assam's Baghjan oil field; capping ops to resume tomorrow, says OIL

Three foreign experts engaged in dousing operations at the Baghjan blowout site in Assam's Tinsukia district received minor burn injuries in an explosion near Oil India Limited's (OIL) well number five on Wednesday.

In a statement, OIL said that three experts from M/s Alert — Anthony Steven Reynolds, Doug Dallas and Craig Neil Duncan suffered minor burn injuries in the incident. " The three experts were provided immediate medical attention by a doctor at the well site and later on they were taken to burn unit section of Astha Nursing Home at Dibrugarh. They have been released after dressing of the burn injuries," said the statement.

The statement added that the operations to cap the well and douse the fire, which had been halted after the explosion, are likely to resume on Thursday.

Jayant Bormudoi, Senior Manager, Public Affairs of Oil India Ltd. told news agency PTI that the incident occurred during the disaster control process. "The experts were on their way to open the spool of the well which is essential before putting up the BOP (Blow Out Preventer) that finally douses the fire. It’s during that process that the blast occurred and three experts were injured,” he said, adding that the cause of the blast, its scale and nature are being ascertained.

Three foreign experts injured in blast at Assams Baghjan oil field capping ops to resume tomorrow says OIL

Image of operations to remove spool from well head at Baghjan oil field. Image courtesy: OIL India

The damaged well has been spewing gas uncontrollably since a blowout was reported on 28 May. The site is located in close proximity to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and the Maguri-Motapung Wetland.

A massive fire had broken out at the site on 9 June and two firefighters had perished during operations to control the blaze. The gas and condensate droplets had spread to a large area and the fire had engulfed everything within a one-kilometre radius, official sources had said.

According to a Hindustan Times report, over 9,000 people have been shifted to relief camps since the blowout. Foreign experts brought in to extinguish the blaze were expected to complete the operations by 7 July but were delayed due to the incessant rains and flood situation in Assam, said the report.

According to a report in The Print, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had last month formed an eight-member committee to probe the blowout, the subsequent fire and damage to humans, wildlife and the environment. The panel had imposed an interim penalty of Rs 25 crore on OIL.

Multiple agencies such as ERM India, TERI, CSIR-NEIST and IIT-Guwahati are engaged in carrying out impact assessment studies in nearby areas, OIL has said.

In its statement issued on Wednesday, OIL detailed the progress is each of these studies, saying that first phase of Environmental Impact Assessment by M/s ERM has been completed and the second phase will be carried out after the capping operation. The rest of these studies are in various stages of progress, it said.

A total of 1,864 families in Doomdooma and Tinsukia circle have been surveyed for assessing the damage for paying compensation, it said.

According to OIL, after the 9 June fire, locals had also staged violent protests at the well site. Blockades by locals have forced the closure of 13 oil and gas wells at the oil field, of which was one reopened on Tuesday, said the statement.

There are 17 oil and five gas wells in the Baghjan oil field.
With inputs from agencies

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