13 days since blowout, gas spill continues Credit: EastMojo image
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Tinsukia: A 3-member global expert team reached Baghjan oilfield in Assam’s Tinsukia district on Monday and assessed the well which is sprouting gas continuously, 13 days after the well blowout happened.

In an exclusive conversation with this correspondent, chairman and managing director of Oil India Limited (OIL) Sushil Chandra Mishra said, “The team comprising of senior well control operations & team leader Michael Ernest Allcorn, senior well control engineer Craig Neil Duncan and senior well control specialist Edward Harris MacLeod – all from renowned Canadian-company Alert Damage Control – alongwith OIL and ONGCL team is likely to take their the attempt to control the well any day before Friday.”

“The team visited the Baghjan well to carry out their assessment,” added Mishra.

A “blowout” occurred at a producing well number 5 of OIL, situated near Dibru Saikhowa National Park and Maguri-Motapung Beel, famous migratory birds. Operations were on to extract gas from a new sand (oil and gas bearing reservoir), at a dept of 3729 metres when the ‘blowout occured’, leaving natural gas gush out to a height of hundreds of feet since the last one week. This accident has turned the entire area beyond 1.5 km, including Baghjan village, into a “gas chamber”.

OIL workers pulling the crane from the rigsite to clear the approach to well head

“The three experts reached Duliajan in the wee hours of Monday and later attended a meeting convened by Resident Chief Engineer of OIL where the global experts were briefed about the progress in the well control operation,” Tridiv Hazarika, OIL spokesperson said.

Hazarika said, after the preliminary discussion and debriefing session, the experts along with the OIL team left for Baghjan well at around noon. “The experts from Alert complimented OIL for all the preparatory works carried out so far and mentioned that based on their wide experience of handling over 1000 blowouts in around 135 countries all over the world under different conditions they are confident of controlling the well at the earliest with necessary support from OIL.”

Hazarika said, “The vertical and horizontal lift mechanism of the Hydraulically Driven Mechanical Transporter to be used for Well Control Operation have been completed and tested.”

The final assembling process is in progress, said Hazarika, adding, composite arrangements for subduing (killing) the well is in progress.

Work progress at OIL’s fabrication unit

On Sunday, OIL had a brief moment of victory at the well site.

The mole for dragging the crane near to rig could not be placed due to problem in approach road. “Hence, it was decided to pull the crane by using all the hands present at the well site, leading to a tug of war between the crane and us with all hands, and we did it. The crane was successfully removed near from the rigsite and the approach to wellhead is now clear,” a joyous Hazarika added.

Earlier, the global expert team landed at Guwahati airport on Sunday and drove down to Duliajan.

In the meantime, a high-level inquiry team, headed by chief wildlife warden MK Yadav, has started their assessment of damage to biodiversity of the region, including the Dibru Saikhowa national park and the world-famous habitat for migratory birds Maguri-Motapung Beel.

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