The state-owned Oil India Ltd (OIL) lost 638 MT of crude oil production from 66 producing wells and 0.46 MMSCMD of natural gas from three gas wells due to blockades by the local people and various students organisations in two districts of Assam, an OIL official said.
A senior OIL official said that as the fire fighters, the NDRF and engineers intensified their efforts to douse the oil well fire in Assam’s Tinsukia district on the fifth day on Saturday, various students organisations and other associations forced OIL to stop its operations in many drilling locations and nine work-over locations in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts.
Security forces in large numbers have been deployed at the agitation sites by the district administrations.
The organisations — All Assam Students’ Union, All Moran Students’ Union and All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam — have been protesting against the incident and demanding more compensation to the affected people.
The state-owned OIL has given financial aid of Rs 30,000 to each of the affected families.
“If the protests of the local organisations continued, the loss of crude oil, which is 638 MT from 66 producing wells and 0.46 MMSCMD of natural gas till Friday, would further increase and hamper the efforts to control the oil well fire,” the OIL official said.
He said that a detailed draft plan for the well control operation drawn up by the team of experts from Singapore based M/s Alert, along with ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) and OIL team has been submitted to the union Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry.
To control the inferno and gas leakage accompanied by oil condensate, equipment is being brought from different parts of the country including from Rajahmundry (Andhra Pradesh).
The gas and oil condensate leakage continued for the 18th day on Saturday while the fire broke out on Tuesday.
At least two fire fighters of OIL were killed and four others including one from ONGC were injured near the oil well blowout site on Wednesday.
The inferno could be seen from as far as 10 km away.
Around 7,000 people have been evacuated and sheltered in 14 relief camps while the inferno completely and partially burnt more than 35 houses.
The Singapore-based emergency management firm has been trying to plug the leakage of gas and oil condensate since it arrived on June 8. The state government has also sought the Indian Air Force’s help.
An OIL spokesman said that the fire has been controlled in a 1.5 km radius area but it is still raging as the “uncontrollable” natural gas is being fed by the well’s oil.
Local people said that the inferno has left a trail of devastation in the adjoining areas, including a famous lake. Farmlands with standing crops, as well as ponds and wetlands in the adjoining villages have also been badly affected and the threat is growing with every passing day.
Experts, environmentalists and wildlife activists are worried as the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, known for its feral horses, is less than 2 km away from the OIL’s well site.