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Assam: Efforts on to douse Baghjan fire, OIL places Blow Out Preventer at site

The Oil India Limited (OIL) has successfully placed the Blow Out Preventer (BOP) stack on the blowout gas well at Baghjan in Tinsukia district in Assam on August 10th, 2020. Alignment job is going on for fixing the studs, an official said.

A blowout preventer (BOP) is a specialized valve or similar mechanical device, used to seal, control and monitor oil and gas wells to prevent blowouts, the uncontrolled release of crude oil or natural gas from a well. They are usually installed in stacks of other valves.

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On 27th May, an Oil India Limited gas well, the BGR 5, faced a blowout which spewed hydrocarbons across a huge radius raining the adjoining villages in Baghjan with associated condensate. Then on 9th June, the blowout caught fire when well control experts from M/S Alert Disaster Control had arrived at the scene to begin work on capping the well. The fire is still raging as this report is being typed out. Villagers were evacuated immediately and sheltered in nearby schools which facilitated as relief centres. Two persons, both OIL employees, have lost their lives due to the blowout.

Also read: Assam: Baghjan villagers protest over neglect by OIL, vows to jump in fire

Recently, the residents of Baghjan staged a protest demonstration outside the office of Tinsukia Deputy Commissioner demanding compensation for families affected due to the gas blowout and fire incident.

An expert committee by former Gauhati High Court, Assam judge BP Katakey on July 2, its preliminary report to the NGT on July 24 on the issue of Baghjan blast. In that it has been revealed, that OIL “does not have, till date, the required consent to establish and/or consent to operate to either carry out drilling and testing of hydrocarbons in Well Baghjan-5″.

The report cited “deficiency in understanding” and “proper planning of critical operations” for the blowout. “There was a clear mismatch between planning and its execution at site and deviations from the standard operating procedure. There were serious deficiencies, of proper levels of supervision of critical operation at the well site, both from the contractor as well as from OIL,” the report revealed.

The report further said that OIL did not have the mandatory prior environmental clearance for the project. It noted that while OIL started operations in Baghjan Well No 5 in November 2006, the clearance was not sought until November 2007 and it was granted only in 2011.

The committee also noted that the company was yet to conduct a biodiversity impact assessment study as mandated by a Supreme Court order that allowed it to seek clearance for exploring hydrocarbons under Dibru Saikhowa National Park in 2017.

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