Assam blowout: India ropes in American expertise to put out the fire

Topics ONGC | Assam

An aerial view of the Baghjan oil field engulfed in fire, in Tisukia, Assam. Photo: PTI
In order to contain the Baghjan blowout and fire, the ministry of petroleum and natural gas (MoPNG) has now roped in the US Department of Energy (DOE) and specialists in oil and gas disaster control from that country.

Senior officials of the ministry, along with top executives of Oil India and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), the Crisis Management Team and other experts held detailed discussions with senior officials of the US Department of Energy (DOE) and US specialists on oil and gas disaster control on Saturday on containment of the blowout and fire in the gas well of Oil India (OIL) at Baghjan in Tinsukia District of Assam.

It was on May 27 that a producing well by at Baghjan Oilfield became very active while work-over operations were on leading to uncontrolled release of natural gas. Later on June 9, two people were killed and four others were injured due to the massive fire that erupted at the site. Singapore-based Alert Disaster Control, one of the largest disaster management companies in the oil and gas sector, has already joined the team of experts from ONGC and OIL. Experts from Alert also attended the meeting.  
In Saturday's meeting, the US side shared their experience in dealing with similar gas blowout incidents in the US. The Indian side elaborated the entire spectrum of ongoing efforts at Baghjan to contain the fire and also preparations for capping the Well, including from the perspective of preventing spread of fire, water management system, removal of debris, use of modern technologies including drones and eventual remediation process to cap the well. "The US DOE and experts have broadly endorsed the steps taken so far by OIL and ONGC experts, and also the plans outlined in containing the fire as well as to cap the well. Both sides decided to exchange views again in the coming days and also review the progress on capping the Well," said a statement by the ministry on Saturday. These discussions were held as part of the ongoing India-US strategic energy partnership.

At the same time, a joint site visit carried out on Saturday by OIL, ONGC and experts from M/Alert. "Equipment list required for Well control shared with ONGC. Joint recce with M/s Alert experts from USA and Canada who reached Dulijan late night on 12-06-2020 is planned," said an OIL statement. The company has already started preliminary work of arranging facilities for well control operation. The Baghjan field is within striking distance of Dibru Saikhowa National Park, the Maguri-Motapung wetlands, and the forest villages of Barekuri and is considered to be a habitat to the hoolock gibbon and Gangetic dolphins. Hence already concerns are raised regarding its impact on biodiversity  



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