High-level probe into OIL’s Baghjan well tragedy: CM Sonowal

Outrage in Assam over the callousness of the GOI’s insensate oil drilling in an ecologically sensitive zone compels the govt to act

CM SarbanandImage Courtesy:financialexpress.com

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Thursday ordered a high-level inquiry into the circumstances that led to a blowout at a gas well of Oil India Limited (OIL) in Tinsukia district and a subsequent fire that killed two persons reports PTI.

Though citizens had demanded a completely independent probe, the enquiry ordered by Sonowal will be conducted by Additional Chief Secretary Maninder Singh and the report will be submitted within 15 days, a senior official at the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said.

“The probe will also look into the allegation of negligence on the part of some officials of the company and its private well operator. It will find out who is responsible for this tragedy,” he said.The inquiry will try to find out how the entire tragedy unfolded and what measures should be taken so that such incidents never occur in the future, the CMO official said.

Sabrangindia had reported today how a local TV channel ‘Asomiya Pratidin’ yesterday interviewed an eminent retired scientist of OIL with experience of work in several countries,Pradip Saikia,who came out with some remarkable revelations. Dr Hiren Gohain had, in his piece stated that “Saikia says he was the first specialist in the field to have discovered gas in subterranean strata at the Baghjan site, way back in 2005.His report which he says is still available in the library of OIL INDIA Ltd had been based on advanced MRI (NRI?) technology and the report had clearly stated that Baghjan site was not a reservoir of hydrocarbon gas but of gas condensate, which is composed of heavier molecules.Hence, once drilled its upward thrust would be much greater than that of gas and demanded ‘extraordinary precautions’ in order to prevent fatal mishaps.But he regretted that his cautionary remarks were somehow overlooked and he felt sure that this negligence had led to this disaster.” This also suggests that while the probe announced today may find some scapegoats to alleviate public anger, it is unlikely to get to the route of the issue: should upwards drilling have taken place at all?

Well No. 5 at Baghjan in Tinsukia district has been spewing gas uncontrollably for the last 16 days (May 27) and it caught fire on Tuesday afternoon, killing two OIL firefighters at the site.

The blaze at the well is so massive that it can be seen from a distance of more than 30 km with thick black smoke going up several metres high, endangering local biodiversity at the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park following the blowout on May 27.

The company and the Tinsukia district administration said they have evacuated around 7,000 people from nearby areas of the gas well site at Baghjan to 12 relief camps.

Two officials of public sector unit (PSU) Oil India Limited have been suspended for alleged negligence of duty at the gas well site, while a show-cause notice has been sent to John Energy Pvt Ltd, the outsourced private operator of the well.

A PIL was filed at the Gauhati High Court on Wednesday against OIL, John Energy, the Centre and the state for the PSU major’s Baghjan gas well blowout and successive fire, which have damaged life and properties in the area.


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