(Eds: With more inputs) Guwahati, Sep 29 (PTI) PSU major Oil India Ltd (OIL) on Tuesday said it will likely take overseas experts two more months to kill its damaged well at Baghjan in Assam, where gas has been gushing out uncontrollably for the last 126 days.
Addressing a press conference after the company's annual general meeting, OIL Chairman and MD Sushil Chandra Mishra said it has started taking action against employees responsible for the mishap, which has killed three persons.
'The fire at the well-head has been doused after we successfully diverted the gas on September 13. We are in the process of completely controlling the well and for that, a snubbing unit from Canada is likely to arrive within next three-four weeks,' he said.
After the arrival of experts of the Alert Disaster Control with their equipment, it will take another 3-4 weeks to control and kill the well, Mishra said, adding, 'a total of about eight weeks will be required to kill the well from now'.
The company has spent around Rs 70 crore so far towards foreign experts in their efforts to douse the flame and control the well, the top OIL official said.
On August 17, OIL had achieved the first successful step towards dousing the blaze when it could place the Blow Out Preventer, a very heavy metal cover weighing several tonnes, in its third attempt at the mouth of the damaged gas well.
Assam Commerce and Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary had said in the assembly on September 2 that a team of experts from Canada were on their way to Baghjan and it will take them two more months to douse the flame.
Asked about the findings of the internal probe on the worst industrial disaster of Assam, the CMD said a preliminary report has been submitted and the company has initiated action against 'some people'.
He, however, declined to share details and appealed to everyone to wait for another four-five weeks for the investigations by a number of statutory bodies of the state and central governments.
The company is at present reviewing and modifying its entire list of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on account of modernisation, and changing conditions to boost the safety measures, he said.
Talking about the loss incurred due to the Baghjan tragedy, Mishra said, 'The total gas loss has been 80,000 standard cubic meters. The loss due to the specific well is Rs 6 crore, while forced closures and blockades by locals have cost us Rs 179 crore.' OIL also lost production of 84,000 metric tonnes of crude oil due to protests after the blowout took place on May 27.
He said 22 wells were shut down by agitators in the Baghjan area at one point of time, but all are operational now except the damaged one.
Mishra said the company will drill another well near the damaged one for producing gas, and look for more production in the area in future to compensate for the loss.
'We have also initiated some austerity measures in the company. We are trying to reduce our expenses in the next one year to make up for the loss,' he said.
On OIL's internal Crisis Management Team to handle such blowout situations, Mishra accepted that the company once had a CMT, but it was not very active.
'We have reactivated the CMT and this will be a priority area and a challenge. However, this blowout was so big that even the combined effort of ONGC and OIL teams has not been able to control it,' he said.
Regarding compensation to the people near the Baghjan well, Mishra said the company has deposited the money estimated by the Tinsukia district administration and the National Green Tribunal after surveying 2,756 families.
He also said that various assessments and impact studies of the blowout as well as the blaze in villages and nearby forest areas by multiple agencies such as ERM India, TERI, CSIR-NEIST and IIT-Guwahati are underway.
'These reports have pointed out that there is no major damage to the ecology. But there has been damage at the well site and it needs to be restored after a survey. We hope to start these works by end of November when the well is expected to be killed forever,' the OIL chief said.
Asked about drilling inside the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and any possible damage, he said there will be no impact as the company will drill from about a two-km distance outside the boundary of the forest with the help of advanced technologies.
The well number 5 at Baghjan in Tinsukia district of Assam has been spewing gas uncontrollably since May 27, and it caught fire on June 9, killing two of OIL's firefighters at the site.
On September 9, a 25-year-old electrical engineer of the company lost his life due to high-voltage electric shock when he was working at the well site.
Three experts from Singaporean firm Alert Disaster Control, who were invited to assist OIL and ONGC officials for putting out the inferno, had received burn injuries while they were removing a spool from the well-head on July 22. PTI TR RBT RBT