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Explosion at Oil India Ltd natural gas well injures three foreign experts, two months after initial blowout

24 July 2020

Three foreign experts were injured in an explosion at Oil India Limited’s (OIL) leaking natural gas well near Baghjan, in the state of Assam on July 22. The experts had been brought in to help stop an “uncontrollable” leak following a blowout on May 27. The explosion happened 56 days after the initial blowout which has already caused an explosion and several fires, one of which killed two firefighters.

Image: India Oil Limited
Image: India Oil Limited

In a statement, OIL said that an explosion on the afternoon of July 22 injured three experts from Singapore-based Alert Disaster Control. Anthony Steven Reynolds, Doug Dallas and Craig Neil Duncan suffered “minor burn injuries” while removing a spool from the well head and were provided immediate medical attention, OIL said. All three have been released from hospital and operations resumed on July 23.

OIL’s natural gas well number 5 has been leaking uncontrollably for over two months, forcing the evacuation of over 9,000 people from local villages and killing scores of fish, birds, and monkeys, as well as an endangered dolphin. Although OIL said that there was little risk to locals, the well caught fire on June 9 which spread to nearby villages, killing two firefighters.

Foreign experts were flown in to help stop the leak with work expected to be completed by July 7. However, heavy rain and flooding caused significant damage to local roads and bridges leading to the site which prevented any significant progress.

OIL has shut down 13 of the 17 oil and gas wells in Baghjan to prevent the spread of any leaks or fires which has resulted in a production loss of 15,590 metric tonnes (MT) of crude oil and 34 million metric standard cubic metres (MMSCM) of natural gas since May 27.

The well is located next to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park which is home to several endangered species of animals. Experts have said that the damage caused by the leak to biodiversity and wildlife in the park is irreparable.


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