A tea garden under Doomdooma gas grid Credit: EastMojo image

Tinsukia: The Assam Branch Indian Tea Association (ABITA) has written to the deputy commissioner of Tinsukia, highlighting severe difficulties faced by tea gardens of Doomdooma in operating their factories. This due to instability in the supply of gas, affecting around 22 tea estates in Assam.

The development comes amid the gas well blowout at Baghjan oilfield of Oil India Limited (OIL) under Doomdooma circle in Tinsukia.

Talking to this correspondent, the secretary of ABITA zone 1 Madhurjya Barooah said, the impact of erratic gas supply can be significant and far-reaching.

“We need gas pressure of 2.5 kilograms to 3 kilograms per sq cm to operate our machines and dryers. However, since last 3 to 4 weeks, we are getting gas pressure below 1 kilograms per sq cm. This constant fluctuation in gas supply, bringing the production to a sudden halt time and again, has caused to tremendous loss to man-days, production and revenues and can lead to temporary closure or shut down of tea estate factories in the days ahead,” Barooah said.

“Only the tea gardens under Doomdooma gas grid only are facing this problem. Other tea factories operating in the same area are not facing any disruption,” Barooah said, adding, “We are therefore inclined to believe that there are serious flaws or irregularities in the supply network or transmission lines that need to be examined and rectified immediately.”

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People stage protest

“The Tinsukia district administration has taken up the matter with OIL, and they all are trying to resolve the crisis, but somehow the situation is not improving. Oil will have to open the gas wells at Dhakowal, presently shut by residents after Baghjan blowout, to restore normalcy,” added Barooah.

In the letter, Barooah said, “We would like to put on record that this could mean a direct loss of employment for many workers employed across 22 tea estates in addition to discontinuation of procurement of green leaf from small tea growers.”

OIL is the producer of the natural gas which is being transported by Assam Gas Company Limited (AGCL) to the tea gardens in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts. The two districts have a total of six gas grids.

The resident chief executive of OIL has written a letter to the deputy commissioner of Tinsukia on Friday highlighting the risk arising due to forceful closure of wells.

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Protesters demand adequate compensation

In the letter, resident chief executive (RCE) of OIL, Dilip Kumar Das, wrote, “after the blowout at Baghjan well number 5 there were a lot of protests by various organizations. This resulted in forceful closure of well in the vicinity, and leading to a huge quantity of production loss of crude oil and natural gas.”

“There are protests at Baghjan EPS, and the protesters are force closure of all the wells connected to the EPS which are very unsafe. It may be noted that each well is flowing gas and oil at very high pressure and with the closure of wells, more pressure is built up, which may lead in leakage at any moment and there is a possibility of a serious accident due to high pressure of oil and gas which is not allowed to flow. If the closure is for three to four days regularly, the valves and seals may not be able to handle the pressure and may lead in uncontrolled flow and harm the reservoir and its productivity in the long run,” Das wrote.

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There are protests at Baghjan EPS and the protesters are force closing all the wells connected to the EPS which are very unsafe, OIL feels

Das also wrote: If frequent closure continues in future, we are constrained to mention that it would be better to revisit each well and close the same by placing plugs so that there is no flow from these wells. This way safety of the installation and population can be ensured, however, it would be difficult to revive the production from these wells in the future, which would be a great loss to the state and the nation.

Senior OIL official believes that if frequent closure continues in future, we are constrained to mention that it would be better to revisit each well and close the same by placing plugs so that there is no flow from these wells

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OIL spokesperson, Tridiv Hazarika said, “The bandhs and blockades have hurt our ability to supply gas as per commitment. Since bandhs and protests are fluctuating so is the gas supply. Due to stoppages and blockades, there was a production loss of 504 metric tonnes of crude oil and 0.62 MMSCM of natural gas on Thursday.”

On Friday, around 500 local villagers staying at Baghjan Dighal Tarang ME School relief camp staged a protest outside the Baghjan EPS of OIL.

Talking to this correspondent, the advisor of Baghjan Gaon Milanjyoti Yuva Sangha Hemanto Moran said, “We have waited enough, now we needed a clear deadline to receive compensation. The OIL authorities, district administration and state government cannot take us on a free ride.”

Meanwhile, despite continuous attempts, fire at OIL gas well at Baghjan in Tinsukia district continues till the 11th day on Friday night.

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