Baghjan oil well fire doused after five months

The fire at Baghjan oil well in Assam’s Tinsukia district has finally been doused after five months, on November 15. The oil well, operated by Oil India Limited, developed a leakage on May 27 and had caught fire on June 9.

“The well has been killed with brine solution and under control now. Fire has been doused completely. There is no pressure in the well now and the same will be observed for 24 hours to check if there is any amount of gas migration and pressure build up. Further operation to abandon the well is in progress,” OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika said on November 15.

Apart from local engineers, experts from Canada, US and Singapore have been engaged at the blowout site in Baghjan.

The oil well, which is located near Dibru Saikhowa National Park, first developed a leakage on May 27 which continued to emit condensate and gas, and caught fire on June 9.

Because of the fire, hundreds of families living in Baghjan had to be shifted to temporary camps. Two fire fighters, working with Oil India Limited, had died on June 9 and one engineer died after falling off at the site on September 9.

Though OIL is yet to assess the amount of loss, OIL chief managing director Sushil Chandra Mishra on September 29 had told media that OIL has suffered around Rs 6 crore loss because of the blowout.

Aerial view of the Baghjan oil well field which caught fire on June 9 | Photo Courtesy: Sachin Bharali
Aerial view of the Baghjan oil well field which caught fire on June 9 | Photo Courtesy: Sachin Bharali

Damage to environment in Baghjan

Wildlife Institute of India (WII), an autonomous institution of the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change in India, in its report published in July has said that the potential of oil blow out and oil spill-like disaster is a reality and therefore such oil wells in the vicinity of Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in Assam and other similar ecological site will be detrimental to the conservation value of this unique ecosystem.

“The toxic fumes and oil coating has universally affected flora and fauna. The contaminants and oil continue to be released in surrounding areas and immediate steps are needed to contain this spill over. The toxins released are known to have long-term persistence in soils and sediments, which will not only affect current life conditions, but due to sustained release over a long period, pose a serious health risk for a longer term,” the report said.

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