Guwahati, (Asian independent) Indian and foreign experts are now in the final stages of capping the oil well leakage and dousing the fire at the state-owned Oil India (OIL) field in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district.
“The experts and engineers expected to control the outflow of gas and oil condensate and douse the blaze at any moment,” a top OIL official told IANS over phone on Monday evening from the accident site.
Natural gas and oil condensate started leaking from an OIL’s oil well around three months ago. The leakage caught fire 70-days ago on June 9. An OIL press release also said that the well capping operation was initiated on Monday morning and the capping BOP (Blow Out Preventive) stack was successfully placed over the well head.
“The 16 studs have also been tightened. The preparations for killing operations are on. The BOP and the lines connected to it are being kept cool through continuous spraying of water,” it added.
The OIL official said that the excavation of ramps and cellar and opening of a wellhead flange are complete while other technical formalities and requirements are underway. The OIL official said that as part of the final phase of preparation for the killing operation after capping of the well, sufficient chemicals are in place at site.
American and Canadian experts and engineers, who are associated with Singapore-based M/S ALERT, firefighters, NDRF personnel and OIL and ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) engineers continued their efforts to check the gas leak and douse the well fire at Baghjan.
The OIL official, who refused to be named, said that besides flood and hostile weather, experts, engineers and workers have been facing numerous other problems in putting out the fire and capping the gas leak at Baghjan (in Tinsukia district), around 550 kms east of Assam’s main city of Guwahati.
So far, since May 27, over 29,475 metric tonne of crude oil and around 70 million standard cubic metres per day of natural gas have been lost as a section of agitators continue with their protests for higher compensation and on other issues at a few locations in Tinsukia district.
Though some of the agitators called off the protests and lifted the road blockade earlier, others continue to demand higher compensation for the affected people and hold OIL responsible for the mishap. OIL has so far provided Rs 30,000 to each of the affected families and arranged shelter and relief for them.
Around 10,000 people have been evacuated and sheltered in 14 relief camps as the fire damaged many houses and other property. According to the OIL press release, a total of 2756 number of families have been surveyed for assessment of damage for compensation till Sunday in Doomdooma and Tinsukia Circle put together. OIL officials said transportation of consignments, comprising heavy machinery and equipment, from Rajahmundry (Andhra Pradesh), Vadodara (Gujarat) and other places was delayed due to the COVID-19 protocols and standard operating procedures.
In the meantime, the Army has built a 150-metre bridge over a water body to facilitate technical work to control the gas leak and oil well fire, following a request from Tinsukia Deputy Commissioner Bhaskar Pegu.
Environmentalists and local people said the fire had left a trail of devastation in the adjoining areas, including a famous lake.
Farms with standing crops as well as ponds and wetlands in the adjoining villages have also been affected. Various NGOs and government bodies, including Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI), have been conducting environmental and pollution studies in view of the fire and blowout of natural gas and oil condensates.
TERI is also arranging drone-fly cameras for aerial photography and videography of the affected areas and surveys are being carried out depending on weather conditions.