This Article is From Jun 22, 2020

Assam Fire: Oil India To Legally Challenge Pollution Body's Closure Order

The pollution control body's probe into the June 9 fire showed the oil field in Assam's Tinsukia was being operated "without its consent". On May 27, a blowout happened in one of the wells at Baghjan, and gas and oil condensate leaked for 13 days before catching fire and spreading.

Assam Fire: Oil India To Legally Challenge Pollution Body's Closure Order

The Oil India Limited operates gas well no.5 in Baghjan Oilfield that caught fire on June 9.


The state-owned Oil India Limited (OIL), which owns and operates gas well number 5 in Baghjan Oilfield, is considering legal recourse to challenge the "closure notice" by the Pollution Control Board, Assam, or the PCBA.

The well had caught fire on June 9 after leaking gas "uncontrollably" since a blowout on May 27. Two OIL fire service officers were killed and four injured in the fire which was followed by protests. Operations at the gas wells remained shut till Saturday when the protests were called off after a tripartite meeting at Deputy Commissioner's Tinsukia's office.

OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika informed media persons on Sunday that the company "is intending to file a writ petition in Gauhati High Court challenging the order passed by PCBA".

The notice, issued on Friday for "nonchalantly violating provisions of law and causing pollution to the environment", directs OIL to end all production and drilling operations at all its 21 installations in Baghjan Oilfield - four natural gas and 17 oil.

The order was issued after Oil India Limited sought more time to reply to the PCBA's notice upon completion of probe as instructed by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

It states that the firm has "not been submitting the Annual Report regularly under Section 9 of the Hazardous and Other Waste (Management and Transboundary Movement ) Rules, 2016, which is a serious violation and liable to be punished under the law".

The Baghjan oil field has been in operation since 2003 and is one of the high yielding gas and oil fields of OIL.

According to OIL, it has suffered a production loss of 386 MT of Crude Oil and 0.37 MMSCM of Natural Gas, as on June 20, because of protests that disrupted operations in 30 oil wells and 3 gas wells.

"Cumulative production loss since May 27, due to bandhs and blockades, was 8013 MT Crude oil and 10.24 MMSCM of natural gas," OIL said in an official statement, adding that drilling and workover operations in five more areas outside the Baghjan area are "still stopped/blocked by protesters".