Assam’s Baghjan Oil Well Fire
| Monalisa Gogoi - 11 Jun 2020

While India prayed for the Amazon and Australian bush fire, the Vizag gas leak tragedy, the Amphan & the Nisarga cyclone and several other unfortunate events this year, now country is praying for Assam's Baghjan Oil Rig Explosion incident. The Gas Leak from the last 15 days. Thousands of People have become homeless. They are compelled to live outside in this Covid-19 scenario, And now the Fire which is still going on.

By Monalisa Gogoi, Bureau Chief, NE, IOP

Guwahati, June 12, 2020:

Assam’s tryst with oil goes back to 1867, barely seven years after first oil well in the world was discovered in Pennsylvania, USA. That place in Assam is known as Digboi and Digboi has the distinction of Asia’s first refinery since 1901. In nutshell, crude oil and gas has brought lots of fame and prosperity to Assam, especially in and around Digboi town.

But recently that very same crude oil and natural gas has brought lots of tears to common people in an area called Baghjan, which is roughly 50 km from Digboi. An oil and gas well operated by public sector unit Oil India Ltd has been spewing massive flame, obnoxious gas and destruction for last 14 days. Situation has become so desperate that Indian Air Force and Indian Army has been put on standby alert to provide help to civil administration.

On May 27, the gas well “blowout” at an existing well number 5 at the Baghjan oilfield of OIL in Assam’s Tinsukia district, situated in close proximity to Dibru Saikhowa National Park and the famous migratory birds habitat Maguri-Motapung Beel. It has left natural gas gushing out to a height of hundreds of feet for the past 15 days, turning the entire area beyond a kilometre, including Baghjan village, into a “gas chamber”.

“The producing well of Baghjan 5 under Baghjan oilfield suddenly became active while work-over operations was underway. The work over operations was going on to produce gas from new sand (oil and gas bearing reservoir) at a depth of 3,729 metres,” according to OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika.

“Earlier, the well was producing around 1 lakh (100,000) standard cubic metres per day of gas from a depth of 3,870 metres,” Hazarika added

The location of this area is of strategic importance to Indian security forces. Barely 73 km from this Baghjan oil field, Indian Air force has famed Sukhoi squadron at Chabua air force base with an eye on China. Then there is a big Indian army camp at Dinjan which is barely 66 km from Baghjan oil field. The Indian Airforce station at Chabua and Indian Army camp at Dinjan are vital for quick and adequate response from Indian side should there be any misadventure from China .

Also this entire area was and still remains a hotbed of various insurgent organizations, ULFA being the most prominent one. Insurgent organizations have a long history of fishing in troubled waters and any discontent among local people in and around Baghjan oil field may prove to beready fodder for these insurgent organizations.

Discontent is brewing high among affected people for lack of prompt and timely response from both government of Assam and Oil India Ltd. India army had to be deployed along with paramilitary forces to provide security to Oil India officials from several thousand affected villagers in and around Baghjan.

Meanwhile, various organisations like All Assam Students Union, Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad,Lachit Sena,Krishak Mukti Sangram Samittee,Nagarik Samaj have strongly condemned the neglecting attitude of Oil India Ltd.Criticizing the role of Assam government, AASU general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi says" The unfortunate incident that took place at Baghjan is only because Oil India Ltd has no skilled person at its disaster management department . And we will never allow to play with the lives of common people and its biodiversity".

Already 3 Singapore based top experts from Alert Disaster Management are camping in Assam to help Oil India teams on ground to control the ravaging inferno at Baghjan. As per reports, few other experts from USA and Canada are also arriving to bring the situation under control.

In 2005, an American company was roped in to cap an oil well blowout at Dikom in neighbouring Dibrugarh district. It took them about 45 days. The official said why it was wise to bring in companies which deal with such situations. “Singapore’s Alert Disaster has successfully tackled around 1,000 blowout incidents in about 135 countries. They have the experience, the expertise and exposure of delivering in all conditions. In times of exigencies, it is better to go with experience,” he said.

Oil India was founded on February 18, 1959, to “expand and develop the newly discovered oil fields of Naharkatia and Moran” in Upper Assam.

Oil India’s Baghjan well was discovered in 2006.

Holding the company and the Centre responsible for the blowout, Baghjan residents Hemanta Moran and Manoj Hazarika said it was really baffling why a team of experts had not been raised to tackle such disasters on a war footing. “We have such a rich history. Oil was first discovered in India in 1889 at Digboi, around 25km from Baghjan, but we still have to invite experts,” Moran said while talking to English daily.

Apurba Ballab Goswami, an environmental activist from Golaghat, has gone a step further by filing an FIR at Baghjan police station, around 530km east of here, seeking action against Oil India and John Energy, which was carrying out work under its supervision, for the extensive damage to life and livelihood.

Goswami, who filed the FIR on Monday, a day before the well caught fire, told media on Wednesday, “It is really baffling why such a company does not have a team to kill/douse a well fire? Why foreign experts have to be invited? If they have to be invited, why it took them 12 days? Oil India is a Navaratna company. We should have helped others instead of others helping us.”

Local people have also said the fire posed a threat to the Dibru Saikhowa National Park, about 300 metres from the oil well, and the Maguri-Motapung Beel (wetland), 500 metres away.

A senior Oil India official, who is part of the team handling the blowout, said questions related to safety and efficiency will be raised following a disaster.

“As far as my knowledge goes, no Indian company has such experts. It is also a business call. Business depends on volume. We don’t have the volume. Nobody would invest in a team which will be called out once in 15 years. It will be unfair on the in-house team too because practical knowledge is a must which companies exclusively dealing with such disasters have,” the official said. He said it took some time to fly in the Singaporean experts because of the coronavirus pandemic. “A lot of clearances were required.”

Several PILs (public interest litigation) have been filed at Guwahati High court against Oil India ltd and its contractor John Energy Ltd for violating safety norms and endangering flora and fauna in an ecologically sensitive area. Another application has been filed at Guwahati High Court for suo moto cognizance of the Baghjan blowout incident and order an appropriate judicial investigation. Assam government has also ordered an additional chief secretary level investigation into the incident. 

Image courtesy - Account handle of Shadab Shaikh, Furkhan Ahmed and Doctor Adani of Twitter 


INDIAN OBSERVER POST (IOP) is a Class, Creative, and Constructive News platform which publishes ONLY exclusive and Special News / Views / Interviews / Research Articles / Analysis / Columns / Features and Opinions on the national and international issues, politics, security, energy, innovation, infrastructure, rural, health, education, women, and entertainment. Email –






(Onkareshwar Pandey is Founder, Editor in Chief & CEO, Indian Observer Post and former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor, (News), ANI. Email - SMS- 9910150119)





Browse By Tags

Latest News