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Assam: Austerity measures fail as massive fire breaks out in Baghjan OIL well

After the initial blowout on 27th May, the BGR 5 oil well of Baghjan area of Tinsukia, Assam has been engulfed in a massive fire after a blast today. A dense cloud of smoke was seen erupting blowing out of Oil India BGR 5 well was seen.

This comes amid the backdrop of a team of experts from Singapore, who reached the site on Monday and was supposed to working on it. As per sources, pungent smell has been found up to 30 km radius.

The gas leak has been going about for a week. The failure of pressure control systems has led to the uncontrolled release of oil and gas. As such, certain austerity measures were taken to control the situation. Inside Northeast has already done a story on the measures announced to control the problem.

Also read Assam: Blowout continues at Baghjan OIL well amid measures

Among those measures, one of it was – both vertical and horizontal lift mechanism of the Hydraulically Driven Mechanical Transporter to be used for Well Control Operation have been completed and tested. The final assembling process is in progress. However, according to a Petroleum Engineering Academic Researcher speaking on anonymity, “this is not a gas well but a gas condensate well and the condensate has already settled in nearby areas”. As per his findings, Inside Northeast has tried to understand the situation.

What does this indicate?

Due to the condensate being spread to the nearby areas, the fire has been seen spreading to other parts as per reports. “Moreover the measure of allowing the fire to continue so that well loses energy will reduce the final production of the entire reservoir”, said the expert. This will be a double whammy to the entire issue.

As per sources, the OIL employees were of the view that since this is a gas well, the fire will only go up and will not spread. Does this indicate a fundamentally flawed understanding by the OIL officials?

So far, OIL has not issued any statement and locals reveal a compensation is expected to follow suit. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had a telephonic conversation with Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan regarding the blast and asked him to arrange all possible measures to control the situation. From the Singapore experience, things these damage control measures do not reflect an actual silver lining.

IRONY?

However, the gravity of the problem is beyond that as 1600 plus families affected earlier along with that a number of animals including endangered dolphins died in and around the park due to the gas leaked from the BGR 5 well as it is near the Dibru Saikhowa National Park Assam.

Another fundamental problem

Sources close to the matter allege that outsourced service providers have hired diploma holders to do an engineer’s job and PSUs like OIL have been using such providers to cut cost corners. This they state has led to negligence and caused the initial situation of the blowout. The issue has brought to the forefront of existing problems of PSU management as well as the casualisation of the labour workforce in state-backed industries. The lack of it is evident as a behemoth of OIL which has been operational since imperial times have to bring in experts from abroad instead of developing their own human resource and R&D.

Amid all of this technicalities, the villagers who are depending on those farmlands in the vicinity with their livestock grazing on them along with the fisherman will be the most affected. As for the associated flora and fauna, one can only be a stoic and imagine the intensity of damage.

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