Friday, August 12, 2022

Assam gas leak: Another explosion at Baghjan well blowout site, 3 foreign experts injured

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  • Three foreign experts, from Singapore-based Alert Disaster Control, involved in the capping operation sustained less than 10 percent burn injuries in the incident

  • Operations were temporarily suspended in the wake of the explosion, but was resumed soon after, said an OIL spokesperson

New Delhi: Another explosion has been reported at the site of the well blowout in Assam’s Baghjan. The explosion was caused during the preparation for the well capping operation and led to a fire on Wednesday, an official spokesperson for state-run OIL (Oil India Limited) confirmed. He added that three foreign experts, from Singapore-based Alert Disaster Control, involved in the capping operation sustained less than 10 percent burn injuries in the incident. They were taken to Ashtha Hospital in Dibrugarh for treatment and have been released after dressing of the injuries.

This is the second explosion reported from the site of the well blowout in Baghjan after the June 9 explosion in which one person was injured and two Oil India fire personnel lost their lives. 

How did the fire start at the Baghjan well blowout site?

Since the well has been leaking gas continuously since May 27, the fire that erupted on June 9 could not be extinguished but had been contained to the mouth of the well. So, the well was already on fire when the explosion happened on Wednesday. The OIL spokesperson said that fire erupted during the preparation for the well killing operation. Due to the presence of gas condensate, an explosion happened. 

“While removing the spool during blowout control operations at Baghjan well no.5, three experts from M/s Alert sustained minor injuries. Treatment was provided immediately to the injured experts. The team could successfully complete more than 70% of retrieval job of 7 1/16” tubing spool yesterday and for the remaining work had commenced since today morning. The 3 experts from Alert suffered minor burn injuries during the removal of the spool,” said OIL in a tweet. PSU Watch had reported on July 21 that OIL was hoping to cap the well on July 23.

OIL hopes to cap the well ‘shortly’

Without specifying any date, OIL said in another tweet, “The well control operation continues and capping of the well is expected shortly.” Operations were temporarily suspended in the wake of the explosion, but was resumed soon after, said the spokesperson. “All six numbers of High Discharge CMT Water Pumps are in operation at site for spraying water to the well head during theoperation. Total 7 nos. of water pumps are available for filling both the water reservoirs periodically. Floodwater level in Pump Station No.2 is receding. Servicing of one number pump at this station is in progress while other two pumps were made available after servicing,” said OIL.

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 over 50 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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