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Assam Oil Well Fire Gas Leakage Largely Tamed

Topics Covered: Conservation and pollution related issues.

Assam Oil Well Fire, Gas Leakage Largely Tamed:


Context:

The raging oil well fire in Assam which continued for more than three months has been primarily controlled, and it would take a few more weeks to control the gas leakage and fire fully.

What happened?

Natural gas and oil condensate started leaking from an oil well of the state-owned OIL field at Baghjan in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district 110 days back. The leakage caught fire 97 days ago on June 9.

How it was tamed?

  • The natural gas of the well number five at Baghjan was diverted partly into production and partly flared in two flare pits.
  • The main aim of this operation was to reduce wellhead pressure of the blowout well, which will help in the next action for killing the well.

Why do blowouts happen?

The pressure balance in a well may be disturbed leading to ‘kicks’ or changes in pressure. If these are not controlled in time, the ‘kicks’ can turn into a sudden blowout.

There are many possible reasons behind blowouts,“from simple lack of attention, poor workmanship, bad maintenance, old age, sabotage to morpho-tectonic factors”.

Why is it so difficult to control?

The control of a blowout depends on two things: the size of the reservoir and the pressure at which the gas/oil is flowing out.

This reservoir was particularly difficult to control since it was a gas well and ran the risk of catching fire at any point.

Impact on the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park:

Environmentalists and local people said the fire had left a trail of devastation in the adjoining areas, including the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. 

The well is at an aerial distance of 900 metres from the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.

  • The national park houses some of the rare and endangered species of flora and fauna – around 36 species of mammals and nearly 400 species of birds.

Dibru_Saikhowa

Sources: the Hindu.