The natural gas well of Oil India Limited in Assam’s Tinsukia district that had a blowout on May 27 and caught fire on Tuesday could take at least four more weeks to control, the Hindustan Times reported. The fire erupted 13 days after an uncontrolled gas emission from the well and a day after three experts from Singapore reached the area to fix the blowout.
The cause of the fire, which broke out at 1.40 pm, was yet to be ascertained. In a statement, OIL said emergency meetings with the expert team was underway. “They have expressed it is now a safe environment for working and are confident that the situation can be controlled and the well capped safely,” it added. “The situation demands arrangement of large quantities of water, installation of high discharge pumps and removal of debris. All the operations as per the experts will take about four weeks. Efforts will be made to reduce this time frame as much as possible.”
Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force and the Army are assisting the Assam government to douse the fire after Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal sought the Centre’s urgent intervention, NDTV reported. The Air Force has sent three fire engines, whereas the Army is on standby. The area has been cordoned off by paramilitary forces.
“Instructions have been issued to district officials to ensure safety of local residents,” Sonowal told journalists. “I have apprised Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan about the incident and asked him to take steps to contain the fire and the blowout.”
Tridiv Hazarika, Oil India Limited spokesperson, told Scroll.in that fireman of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd was injured in the incident.
The blowout occurred when a firm, given the task of exploration and production, tried to extract gas from a depth of 3,729 metres. At least 3,000 people in a 1.5-km radius of the oil well had to be evacuated on May 27 after the blowout. Oil India Limited had approached several experts to help stop the gas leak. The oil blowout destroyed local tea gardens and water bodies in Assam. Last week, locals forced to move to relief camps staged a protest demanding compensation for their loss.
The oil company has announced financial relief of Rs 30,000 each to the affected families.