PSU major Oil India Ltd (OIL) on Sunday said it has appointed a consultant to assess the environmental impact of a major blowout in a well, from which gas is flowing uncontrollably for 11 days, on the Dibru- Saikhowa National Park and its nearby areas in Assam.
Due to seepage of crude, condensate and other chemicals from the OIL well in Baghjan of Tinsukia district, there have been reports of damage to the ecology of the area by the locals, environmentalists and various groups.
“To safeguard the environment, OIL has engaged a NABET accredited consultant to carry out environment impact assessment study in and around Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, Maguri Motapung Beel and the surrounding villages,” the company said in a statement.
The study will be conducted to assess the effects of blowout on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and the socio-economic impact assessment in consultation with the stakeholders, it added.
“OIL has engaged TERI for bio-remediation for impact of blowout on environment and site assessment was carried out jointly by officials from TERI and OIL on June 6, 2020,” the statement said.
Further, the company engaged local fishermen with boats to identify oil spill, if any, in Maguri Motapung Beel wetland so that immediate remedial action may be taken up as required.
Earlier, pictures of carcasses of a river dolphin and some dead fishes in Maguri Motapung Beel, which is adjacent to Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and about 1.5 km from the incident site, went viral on social media.
Following this, the Assam Forest Department had issued a notice to OIL on May 29 seeking details of the incident.
On May 27, a major blowout took place at a producing gas well of OIL at Baghjan, next to Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, forcing the administration to evacuate thousands of people living nearby due to sprouting of natural gas and condensate droplets.
OIL said the “well is flowing gas uncontrollably” even as all attempts to control it have been hampered due to bad weather conditions in the area.
“Removal of equipment from the well plinth is in progress. Poor weather condition is hampering the work progress for removal of equipment from well plinth. Continuous rainfall necessitated further development of the approach road for removing equipment from the well site, which is in progress,” it added.
Meanwhile, OIL said the arrival of the three experts from the Singapore-based Alert Disaster Control has been delayed due to formalities related to COVID-19 pandemic.
“Three experts of Singapore based firm Alert Disaster Control will reach Duliajan late evening on June 7. The delay in their arrival is due to clearances of official formalities at Singapore. The team will supplement the OIL and ONGC team in executing the control of the blowout,” it added.
Informing the status of repair works, OIL said with very limited space and non-availability of open space above the wellhead, placement of Blow Out Preventer (BOP) has become a huge challenge as it entails huge risk.
“It is planned to place the BOP on the wellhead through a hydraulically driven mechanical transporter. Safety of the people and the surroundings has been considered utmost priority while controlling the well,” the company said.
In order to subdue or kill the well, drilling mud will have to be pumped immediately after capping the well by the BOP and the preparation of requisite well killing mud is underway.
“Huge quantities of water will be required while executing the actual operation of the well… A water reservoir near the well site plinth has been made and preparation of the area for placement of two 2,500 gallons capacity pumps is in progress.”
“But due to wind direction and inclement weather conditions, the level of gas concentration is above the safe limit of operation in that area. The Crisis Management Team decided to shift the water reservoir to an alternate area in the opposite direction of the present reservoir for safety reasons,” OIL said.
Because of this, a new pipeline is now required to be laid to the well plinth, but due to heavy rain for the last couple of days, the area needs a huge amount of civil works to make it ready.