PCBA to lift closure notice of Baghjan wells: Oil India    

Guwahati, June 22 (PTI): Oil India Ltd (OIL) on Monday claimed the Pollution Control Board, Assam (PCBA) has decided to withdraw its notice asking the company to shut down all operations in Baghjan, where a gas well of the PSU caught fire after a weeks-long blowout.

This comes a day after Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal expressed displeasure over the PCBA order and said authorities to be "more sensible".


"Pollution Control Board, Assam served a closure notice directing OIL to close down all the production as well as drilling operations of all installations of Baghjan oil field forthwith.


"Chairman PCBA spoke to CMD-OIL today and the closure notice is in the process of being lifted," OIL said in a statement.


The PSU had on Sunday said it will approach the Gauhati High Court against the PCBA if it does not withdraw the closure notice.


The Baghjan oil field has a total of 22 producing wells -- 18 crude and four gas. The oil field has been in operation since 2003.


Well number 5 at Baghjan in Tinsukia district of Assam has been spewing gas uncontrollably for the last 27 days and it caught fire on June 9, killing two of OIL''s firefighters at the site.


Following the accident, the PCBA sent a show cause notice to the energy major on June 10 seeking details of its operations in Baghjan in the last 15 years, within one week.


Citing a number of violations by the PSU, the PCBA issued the "closure notice" alleging that the company did not obtain required permissions for the Baghjan oil fields. OIL categorically denied the charge and claimed it has the "PCBA''s consent" for its all operations in the state.


On the ongoing process to douse the blaze at the well, OIL said a crucial packing element for the casing hanger will be airlifted from Singapore on Monday.


The consignments being mobilised from outside Assam were stuck at Dalkhota, West Bengal due to a very long waiting queue for COVID testing, it said.


"Vehicles carrying second load of equipment from ONGC, Rajahmundry, three vehicles carrying materials and bulldozer from ONGC-Vadodara are in transit," it said.


The company informed that various works at the well site have been hampered due to inclement weather and soft ground condition.


"In order to mitigate the delay and make access of vehicles and placement equipment at the site, actions (have been) initiated for mobilising heavy-duty composite porta deck mats from Kolkata and Guwahati. Materials are expected to be loaded today," it said.


On the loss of production due to agitation by locals, OIL said there was an output drop of 149 metric tonnes (MT) of crude oil and 0.16 million metric standard cubic metres (MMSCM) of natural gas on Sunday due to disruptions in 22 oil wells and one gas well.


"Cumulative production loss since May 27, 2020 due to bandhs and blockades: 8,162 MT crude oil, 10.4 MMSCM of natural gas," it said.


OIL also said various assessments and impact studies of the blowout, as well as the blaze, in villages and nearby forest areas, are being conducted by multiple agencies such as ERM India, TERI, CSIR-NEIST and Assam Agricultural University.