Over 7,600 MT crude oil production lost to Assam blockades:OIL

The state-owned Oil India Ltd (OIL) has lost production of over 7,627 MT of crude oil from 33 wells and around 10 MMSCMD of natural gas from five gas wells due to blockades by protesters in two districts of Assam, an OIL official said on Saturday.

The senior official said that as experts from the USA and Canada associated with Singapore-based M/S ALERT, firefighters, NDRF and engineers intensified efforts to douse the oil well fire in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district on the 12th day on Saturday, local people and various students organisations had forced OIL to stop its operations at many drilling locations and nine work-over locations in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts.

The agitators are blocking roads and obstructed oil and gas production for the past many days to demand higher compensation for the affected and holding OIL responsible for the mishap. The OIL has so far provided Rs 30,000 to each of the affected families.

Locals said the fire had left a trail of devastation in the adjoining areas, including a famous lake. Farms with standing crops as well as ponds and wetlands in the adjoining villages have also been affected.

Meanwhile, the Assam government on Friday extended the enforcement of the Essential Services Maintenance (Assam) Act, 1980 for another six months to prohibit strikes and agitations by employees, workers and technical personnel in the oil and gas sectors.

“Any service in any oil field or refinery of any establishment or undertaking dealing with the production, supply of petroleum products including natural gas, would fall under the purview of the ESMA,” an Assam government official said in Guwahati on Saturday.

Meanwhile, an OIL official said that a detailed plan has been drawn up with the help of Indian and foreign experts to control the flow of gas from the burning well and to cap it.

“The plan is getting executed as per schedule and it is proposed to cap the well on July 7 after taking all necessary safety precautions,” the official told IANS while refusing to be identified.

He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday reviewed the situation arising out of OIL’s well blowout and fire in Baghjan, around 550 km east of Assam’s main city of Guwahati.

In the meantime, the Army has started to build a 150-metre bridge over a water body to facilitate technical works to control gas leak and oil well fire, following request from Tinsukia Deputy Commissioner Bhaskar Pegu.

“The Army is ferrying 17 truckloads of material for the bailey bridge from 3 Corps base at Misamari in the Tezpur district,” the OIL official said.

Gas and oil condensate leak at the oil well at Baghjan started on May 27 but caught fire on June 9, killing two OIL firefighters and injuring many others.