Friday, June 24, 2022

Baghjan well leaking gas for 2 months now; OIL set to extend capping schedule again

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  • Assam has been reeling under heavy rains and floods that have affected about 15 lakh people and killed seven so far

  • A spokesperson for OIL had said last week that the PSU was positive about capping the well by Tuesday

New Delhi: It looks like the well blowout in Baghjan, which has been continuing for two months now, is set to drag on further as weather plays spoilsport and hinders the progress of the capping operation undertaken by state-run OIL (Oil India Ltd), with help from foreign experts and oil major ONGC. A spokesperson for OIL had said last week that the PSU was positive about capping the well by Tuesday. However, on Tuesday, a source, who spoke to PSU Watch on the condition of anonymity, said that the well killing operation will not happen as the weather has disrupted all the preparations made by OIL for the same. “We are now putting together everything once again. And we are hoping to undertake the well capping operation on July 30,” said the source.

Assam has been reeling under heavy rains and floods that have affected about 15 lakh people and killed seven so far. According to a weather report, locally heavy rain reaching 300 mm is possible in western Assam, and eastern Arunachal Pradesh over the next five days. In the backdrop of these conditions, OIL has been attempting to cap well number 5 of its oilfield in Baghjan which has been leaking gas uncontrollably since May 27. 

OIL started final preparation for capping operation on July 27

In an official statement released on July 27, OIL had said, “Activities at well site commenced since early morning today. New studs have been transferred to the site for replacing the deformed and damaged studs of the lowermost casing head housing flange (13-3/8”).” On July 25, after inspection of the well head and the technical discussion, OIL had planned to bring some changes in the composition of Well Killing fluid.

PSU Watch has reported earlier that the deadline for capping the well operation has been extended multiple time, with the first deadline expiring on July 7. 

The backdrop

The oil blowout in Assam’s Baghjan has become one of the worst industrial disasters of the state since the well has been leaking gas continuously for 60 days now. The incident has been particularly dangerous because of the oilfield’s proximity to the Dibru Saikhowa national park, which is a biodiversity hotspot, and the famous migratory bird habitat Maguri-Motapung Beel. A well blowout means an uncontrolled escape of crude oil or natural gas from an oil well. Oil and natural gas have been seeping into the nearby wetlands which are home to a variety of species and the atmosphere for 17 days now and has killed animals in the vicinity.

The incident has become Assam’s worst-ever well blowout in more than a decade, with the only precedent being the oil well fire in Dikom in Dibrugarh in 2005.

(PSU Watch– India's Business News centre that places the spotlight on PSUs, Bureaucracy, Defence and Public Policy is now on Telegram. Join PSU Watch Channel in your Telegram and stay updated)

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