The site of the devastation

Tinsukia: Fourteen days after the gas blowout happened, Oil India Limited (OIL) has suspended two senior officials from Oil & Gas Production Services (OGPS) and drilling department on Tuesday.

However, despite repeated attempts from all concerned, the fire continues to rage at the blowout well till Wednesday evening.

The officers have been identified as chief engineer of OGPS, Bidyut Pawan Das, and superintending engineer, drilling, Debojit Das.

In an exclusive conversation with this correspondent, chairman and managing director (CMD) of OIL Sushil Chandra Mishra said, “Two officials have been suspended with immediate effect.”

Devastation in nearby areas due to the fire

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However, he refused to share further details at this point of time.

Source in OIL told this correspondent that the officials have been issued a show cause notice and suspended pending enquiry. “More details are not available at this point of time,” it added.

The CMD of OIL has constituted four teams – technical; arrangements and facilities; relief and rehabilitation and other issues for effective execution of measures in the current crisis situation.

The “blowout” occurred on May 27 at a producing gas well number 5 of OIL, situated in close proximity to the national park and the famous migratory birds habitat Maguri-Motapung Beel, while work-over operations for extracting gas from new sand (oil and gas bearing reservoir) at a depth of 3,729 metres was on, leaving natural gas and condensate oil to gush out and spill all around, which caught massive fire on Tuesday.

The fire gutted whatever came on its way – houses, paddy fields, betel nut trees, bamboo groves, tress and plants – up to a distance of roughly one kilometre, leaving behind a trail of destruction to humans and the environment.

“The team of experts, who arrived from Singapore, visited the well site this morning along with OIL & ONGC crisis management teams to assess the current situation and is currently preparing the roadmap for the next course of action,” OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika said.

In a press statement, Hazarika said, the blowout well caught fire around 1.14 PM on Tuesday. “Two OIL Employees from fire services assistant operator Durlov Gogoi and Tikheswar Gohain lost their lives during the Fire. Bodies of the employees, who were missing since yesterday, have been recovered this morning.”

Hazarika said, “OIL CMD Mishra had a detailed discussion with Assam cabinet minister Chandra Mohan Patowary in and appraised the status of the blowout and actions initiated by OIL.”

“Immediate compensation is being disbursed to the families of two OIL employees, who sacrificed their lives,” Hazarika said, adding, “Four persons – two from OIL, one each from ONGC and a Contractor – sustained minor injury and have been provided with immediate medical help.”

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The flame at the site

Hazarika said, fire tenders are spraying water to contain fire from spreading in the surrounding areas. “Arrangement for additional water for fire control is in progress.”

The Union minister of petroleum & natural gas and steel Dharmendra Pradhan conducted another emergency video conferencing meeting with OIL team at Duliajan and Baghjan at 10 am on Wednesday.

He added, Pradhan took complete stock of the ground level situation of the fire from the OIL team at Baghjan and advised OIL to take immediate action for providing all necessary support to the affected people in the fire.

“After the fire incident, affected people in the surrounding areas are accommodated at 12 relief camps at a safer distance with the help of district administration and arrangement for food and other basic needs have been made,” said Hazarika.

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