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Blowout causes “uncontrollable” leak from Indian rig for seventh day in a row

02 June 2020

Oil India Limited (OIL) has called for help from international experts after an oil well, which suffered a blowout on May 27, continued to leak “uncontrollably” for a seventh day. The leak from the rig in Baghjan, in the northeastern state of Assam, has so far forced the evacuation of around 2500 people and killed scores of fish and birds, as well as an endangered dolphin.

OIL updates journalists five days after blowout - Image: OIL
OIL updates journalists five days after blowout - Image: OIL

On June 1, OIL released a statement saying that on May 27 at around 10:30, a gas producing well in the Baghjan oilfield suddenly become very active while workover operations were underway. The statement added that there was no sign of fire, casualties or damage following the blowout, however gas continues to flow uncontrollably from the well.

A Singapore-based team of experts are on standby and can be called in if the leak continues into June 4. According to the newspaper The Indian Express, locals have reported being able to smell gas from several kilometres away and that others had experienced a burning sensation in their eyes and respiratory issues.

OIL says that its fire service is stationed at the well 24 hours a day to continuously water jacket the well while air quality is being monitored at regular intervals. 2500 locals who were evacuated from the area are being sent to three relief camps at local schools.

The Indian Express reports that several species of birds, fish and snakes have been found dead, as well as an endangered species of dolphin. The rig is located next to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park which is home to several endangered species of animals. 

OIL’s statement said it is awaiting the observations and findings of the District Administration, Forest department, Pollution Control Board so that all necessary steps can be taken. The Express adds that OIL has only recently come under scrutiny from environmentalists after the state-run company was given permission from the government to drill at seven different locations under the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.

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