40+ gas leaks, fires at refineries and oil wells in 4 years: Petroleum Ministry to LS

Admission made in a response to a Parliamentary question about the Baghjan oil well leakage and fire.

Image Courtesy:ft.com

On the first day of Monsoon Session, the Lok Sabha dealt with some pertinent questions put forth by Members of the Parliament (MP). The question hour has been cancelled, which means questions will not be asked and answered orally by Ministers but only written answers will be given for each day of the session.

A total of 7 MPs, including Supriya Sule and Dr. DNV Senthilkumar, asked Dharmendra Pradhan, the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas about the massive fire at Baghjan oilfield in Tinsukia, Assam at a plant operated by of Oil India Limited (OIL). The questions were pertaining to effect on human capital, plans for compensation, safeguard measures, number of incidents of such gas leakage in the country and details on inquiry set up to probe into the incident.

The Ministry replied stating that about 3,000 affected families around the oilfield were evacuated to rehabilitation camps and there have been no casualty of local residents, but OIL lost 3 employees. However, local residents claim that 5 people from a village named Natun Gaon, near the gas well site, allegedly succumbed to the toxic gas-induced poison, as reported by Assamese daily Asomiya Pratidin.

Further, 2,756 families have been identified for compensation as per a committee constituted by District Administration for assessing damage of property. Further, about Re 10 crores have been deposited with the administration to pay compensation of Rs. 30,000 to 3,645 affected families.

As per National Green Tribunal’s order for interim compensation, 12 families have been identified for compensation of Rs. 25 Lakh, 57 families have been identified for Rs. 10 lakh compensation and 561 families have been identified for compensation of Rs. 2.5 lakh depending on how much damage has been caused to their houses. However, there is not definite data on whether these amounts have reached the affected families, as the case should be. The Sentinel reported that as of July 19, 11 families had received compensation of Rs. 20 lakh each. 

On the number of incidents of gas leakage and fire break out, the Ministry stated that from 2017 until August 2020, there have been 24 such incidents at refineries and 18 such incidents at oil fields/wells.

The Ministry also stated that “in most incidents of gas leakages in any pipeline, the oil & gas wells are closed immediately to prevent fire/loss of oil and gas and after carrying out leakage rectification job, operations are normalised and production is restored.” However, on June 24, Assam Pollution Control Board withdrew the closure notice served upon OIL basis an affidavit submitted by OIL “subject to certain conditions”.

On May 27, there was a blowout at one of OIL’s gas-producing wells in Tinsukia, Assam. he well was producing 100,000 standard cubic metres per day (SCMD) of gas from a depth of 3,870 metres (4,234 yards) before the blowout. On June 9, a massive fire engulfed the oil well. In general, a blowout is the uncontrolled release of crude oil and/or natural gas from an oil well or gas well after pressure control systems have failed. An accidental spark during a blowout can lead to a catastrophic oil or gas fire.

The Assam government stated on September 2 during an Assembly Session, that the fire at the oil wells could possibly continue for 2 more months.

The Parliamentary answer may be read here.


Assam Pollution Control Board withdraws closure notice served to Oil India Limited
National Green Tribunal slaps Rs. 25 crore fine on Oil India Limited for gas well blowout
Another explosion at Baghjan oil well injures three foreign experts



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