Oil India Limited (OIL) on Saturday called off its operations to contain the fire and blowout at the Baghjan 5 well in Assam after the area was ravaged by days of heavy rain and floods. “Working condition at the site has been considered unsafe for the day and all operations at site have been called off,” stated a release from the company.
The interruption in operations will prove to be a big challenge for the energy major, as it has struggled to plug the blowout, first reported exactly a month ago on May 27. Subsequently, the well caught fire on June 9, complicating matters further.
“One-day loss is a huge problem for us because every day is accounted for,” said OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika, “The debris clearing around the well area — a crucial part of the plugging operations — was slated for today.”
The authorities had estimated that the well will be capped by July 7. However, with weather reports indicating that the rain will continue for the next few days, it is looking unlikely, said Hazarika.
The OIL release stated that the Dangori river — from which it is pumping water — is overflowing. “The Kill Pump area is completely flooded. OIL CMT Water Pump area is submerged with flood water” the release stated.
As a result, the main well operations had to be halted but operations at OIL workshops continued.
The authorities also carried out civil work — road repair to facilitate access to the site.
Currently, the three main routes to the well site are inaccessible.
While the Doomdooma-Baghjan bridge collapsed on Thursday, the condition of the bridge near Daisajan Tea Estate on Tiphuk-Kordaiguri road is fast deteriorating.
On Saturday, the district administration announced that the part of the third route via Plastic Park road has been closed for all vehicular traffic since it was inundated and under pressure too.
“There is a fourth route, but then it cannot withstand vehicles carrying heavy equipment imperative for our operations,” said Hazarika.
Meanwhile, various assessment studies to study the environmental impact have been put on hold because of the rains.
The flood situation in the state worsened with more than four lakh people affected in 21 (out of 33) districts. As per a bulletin from the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), two people died in Goalpara district on Saturday, taking the toll to 16.
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