Assam Oil Blowout: CM Sonowal Seeks Central Help; Singapore Experts to Visit Site in Tinsukia

Sohini Goswami

A team of experts from Singapore is scheduled to arrive in Assam on Wednesday to plug a leak in a well of Oil India Limited at Baghjan in Tinsukia district, officials said.

The development came after Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal called up Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan on Tuesday and sought help in getting foreign experts to repair the damage, they said.

A major blowout took place on May 27 at a gas-producing well of OIL at Baghjan, next to Dibru Saikhowa National Park, forcing the administration to evacuate around 2,500 people.

Natural gas has been spewing from it even after six days, despite the efforts of the public sector undertaking's crisis management team to control it.

OIL Chairman and Managing Director Sushil Chandra Mishra on Monday said the company has contacted global experts and may bring them to Baghjan to resolve the crisis.

According to officials, Sonowal rang up Pradhan and requested him to take up immediate steps like taking the help of foreign experts in stopping the release of gas.

He also requested the Union minister for announcing adequate compensation for the victims who were residents in the fringe areas.

Pradhan assured the chief minister of taking positive steps into the matter including bringing experts from Singapore to plug the leak on Wednesday, they said.

He also informed Sonowal that a joint secretary from the Union Petroleum Ministry has reached the site to take stock of the situation.

Meanwhile, gas was flowing from the well and pumping of water to it is on to minimise chances of it catching fire, OIL said in a release.

Digging of a water reservoir near the well and preparation of installing two high-capacity pumps is in progress as a huge quantity of water will be required at the time of the capping of the well, it said.

"It has been assessed that approach to the vicinity of the well would not be safe due to gas gushing at high pressures. Hence, necessary equipment is being mobilised and fit for purpose equipment (hydraulically driven mechanical transporter) are being fabricated at OIL workshop," the release said.

All safety measures are continuously monitored to protect surrounding villagers and their properties, working team and the environment, it said.