Oil India Limited on Monday said it had finally succeeded in capping the Baghjan gas well in Tinsukia, after over 80 days since the well had a major blowout on May 27. It was capped by placing a Blowout Preventer stack on the wellhead, the company said.
A blowout preventer, or BOP, is a specially-designed valve that is mounted on top of the well during the drilling and completion stages of operation. The operator can close this valve to stop the flow of oil or gas in case of emergencies.
“The well capping operation was initiated this morning and the Capping BOP Stack was successfully placed over the Well Head,” the company said in a statement. “The 16 studs have also been tightened. The preparations for killing operations are on. The BOP and the lines connected to it are being kept cool through continuous spraying of water.”
However, oil and gas production still continues to be affected due to forceful closure of few wells connected to Baghjan, OIL added. Drilling and workover operation also remain affected at few of the locations due to forceful closure of operation, it said.
This was the third attempt made by authorities to cap the well, and came a day after four global experts arrived in Duliajan to join the extinguishing process, East Mojo reported. The first two attempts were made on July 31 and August 10, respectively.
OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika said the next step of dousing the fire will be taken up after laying down pipes. “Fluid and chemical mud will be pumped into the well to kill it and douse the fire,” he added. “Though it’s a risky operation, the fire will likely be doused within 24 hours if everything goes as planned.”
A massive fire has been raging at the oil well since June 9, when gas that had been leaking ignited, sending plumes of smoke into the sky. Two firefighters had died in the blaze. Oil India had warned at the time that the fire could take weeks to extinguish. Then on July 22, another explosion at the well left three foreign experts injured.
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, triggering protests by local residents.
In June, the National Green Tribunal had directed Oil India Limited to pay an interim fine of Rs 25 crore for the damage caused to public health and wildlife due to the fire.