Assam: Fourteen days later massive fire breaks out at oil well in Baghjan oilfield

The oil well operated by Oil India Limited had a blowout on May 27 after which it was continuously spewing harmful condensate in the environment, affecting animals, livestock and human habitation


After an explosion on Tuesday, the Baghjan oil well which was already reeling under the effect of a blowout, was engulfed in flames which spread to nearby areas, burning houses and trees, The Telegraph reported.

Thirteen days after the blowout, the oil well run by Oil India Limited (OIL), spewed massive fire that could be seen from at least 15 kilometers away in Tinsukia town, cited media reports. The fire broke out when three experts from Singapore’s Alert Disaster Control were inspecting the blowout site and some equipment was being removed.



An official statement by OIL said that there were no casualties reported and a fire fighter from Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGCL) sustained minor injuries. Violent protests took place around the well site and an OIL official said that the violence led to employees being manhandled, The Telegraph reported. According to the report, CRPF personnel have been deployed to maintain law and order at the site.

However, Trideep Hazarika, an official from OIL told Mirror Now that two fire fighters succumbed due to the injuries sustained in the fire. He also said that damage to the property and environment in a radius close to 800-900 meters from the fire. He also said that unless the blowout came under control, the fire wouldn’t go out, adding that the periphery fire had been contained. He said that they didn’t have an official diagnosis of what caused the fire, but said it could probably be due to the warm and dry weather conditions.

AIR News reported that Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal has requested Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to deploy the Air Force to control the fire. He also spoke to PM Modi to apprise him of the situation and ask for any assistance necessary. OIL has said that it could be at least four more weeks till the fire and the blowout were brought under control. It said that once the situation became normal, the experts from Alert, OIL and ONGC would move to the site



As many as 1,610 families had already been evacuated when the blowout took place on May 27, 2020. The blowout and the fire pose threats to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park (DSNP), which is around 300 meters from the oil well and the Maguri Motapung Beel wetlands which is about 500 meters away. OIL had earlier announced a compensation of Rs. 30,000 for all affected families. Environmental activists have decried the incident saying it poses a threat to the ecology of the area. After the blowout, a carcass of a Gangetic Dolphin was found in the area and the evidence of oil entering water bodies and condensate was also seen after testimony from the local population.

In a telling commentary on the current situation, leading public intellectual, Dr Hiren Gohan has written a strong appeal in Sabrangindia, “The price of profit, OIL’s misadventure threatens Tinsukhia’s reserve forests & wild life sanctuaries: Assam.” He argues that, taking unscrupulous advantage of the opacity caused by the Covid 19 lockdown, the environmental clearance to OIL’s drilling in Assam severely endangered human and natural life and an Independent Inquiry into not just the blowout but the fire and controversial environmental clearances to the drilling operation is the need of the hour.

With four weeks to go for damage control, one can only imagine the continued damage the environment and people in the area are set to suffer in the coming days. 


The price of profit, OIL’s misadventure threatens Tinsukhia’s reserve forests & wild life sanctuaries: Assam

Assam gas -well blowout: 11 days on, threat to humans and animals remains high



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