For over a month now, the well at Assam's Baghjan oilfield that had caught fire on June 9, continues to spit fire. Operations to cap the Oil India Limited (OIL)-operated well have been hampered due to incessant rains and flooding in the region, the company has said.
A team of professionals consisting of members of OIL and Singapore-based Alert Disaster Control that had been roped in to assist in capping operations, have yet been unable to douse the fire.
In its latest update, Oil India said, "Baghjan area is severely hit by flood due to rising water in Brahmaputra river and reverse flow to Maguri Beel, apart from continuous rain."
The oil well had been leaking natural gas uncontrollably ever since the blowout which took place on May 27. Several mitigation efforts were undertaken following the incident to prevent the well from catching fire due to ignition from any source. A constant spray of water was being used as a coolant to this effect.
However, about a fortnight later, an explosion occurred at the site and a massive fire engulfed the Baghjan oil well. The fire had initially spread to quite a distance, forcing people in the region to move out. The state government and OIL also evacuated people who were at risk in the area.
The Baghjan oilfield in Assam's Tinsukia district is located in an ecologically precarious area, a region that is rich in biodiversity. It has on either side the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and the Maguri Beel wetlands, both of which are home to some of the rarest species of flora and fauna. Environmentalists fear that the explosion and the gas spewed by the well could have long-lasting, irreversible effects on the ecology as well as pose health hazards to residents of the area.
As per reports by local media, residents have also expressed concern over the increasing number of tremors being felt in the area.