Gaurav Gogoi, MP from Kaliabor, Assam expressed concern on the Baghjan blowout.

Mr. Gaurav Gogoi, Hon’ble MP from Kaliabor, Assam has constantly expressed concern on the Baghjan blowout, after writing a letter to the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, he also raised the issue under Rule 377 in Lok Sabha. Following which, the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas directed the Chief Managing Director of Oil India Limited to brief the Hon’ble Member of Parliament on the situation in Baghjan.

The briefing was conducted earlier this morning by the Chief Managing Director and other senior officers of OIL, over virtual media. As the briefing enumerated the chain of events on May 27, 2020 and June 9, 2020, it came to light that a blowout had occurred in the midst of a conventional ‘work-over’ being conducted to shift the zone of production. In the middle of this process, the blow out occurred before the BOP that was removed could be placed back in its position. Subsequently, a spark in the watering pipes caused the highly inflammable gas to catch fire on June 9, 2020. During the briefing enumerating the chain of events, the Hon’ble MP expressed dissatisfaction with OIL’s management of conventional operations and fire mitigating measures which led the situation to aggravate.

The Hon’ble MP further sought clarification on why OIL was using ONGC’s equipment to ‘kill’ the blowout. He also expressed concern over the equipment being procured in 1995 after the Andhra Pradesh blowout by ONGC and suggested that OIL procure its independent equipment.

The response to Hon’ble MP’s key question, seeking the estimated time for containing the blowout was ambiguous. OIL officials stated that a computer simulation for Snubbing procedure was underway, which if finalised would take another 5-6 weeks for completion after the decision was made. The secondary procedure to make a relief well is expected to take another 4-5 months.

Impact on ground water and air were also discussed and it was stated that all assessments are underway and final reports are awaited. The MP expressed grave concern about transgenerational harm that may occur to health and livelihood as a consequence of soil and ground water toxicity. The MP further observed that any compensation decided without adequate assessment of the soil and its impact on health, agriculture and livelihood will be inadequate, and that affected families should be further compensated.

The Hon’ble MP also inquired about the safety measures employed for workers and teams deployed at the sight of impact. He further suggested that continuous health assessment be conducted both during and after the blowout to mitigate any long term impacts to all front line workers’ health.

In conclusion, the MP thanked the Chief Managing Director and senior officers of OIL for the briefing, and stated that lessons needed to be learnt from Baghjan. He reiterated that there exists a fundamental need to provide for a more robust and independent mitigation system to prevent another Baghjan.

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