PCBA withdraws notice to close Baghjan operations

Board asks OIL to fulfill certain conditions within specified time

GUWAHATI: Pollution Control Board of Assam (PCBA) has withdrawn the notice served on Oil India Limited (OIL) to close all production and drilling operations in Upper Assam’s Baghjan oil field area, an official statement issued on Tuesday confirmed.

“The closure notice served by Pollution Control Board of Assam (PCBA) has been withdrawn. PCBA has asked OIL to fulfill certain conditions within specific timeframes. OIL will take necessary steps to comply with the directives/conditions of PCBA,” the statement said.

In the withdrawal of closure notification, PCBA directed OIL to submit a detailed time-bound environment management plan for environmental mitigation and extinguishing of the fire at Baghjan oil field within 15 days.

“They have to apply for “consent to operate” separately for each drilling operation, production and other installations along with environment management plan and requisite documents within a month,” the PCBA notification read.

“They have to submit all the details of hazardous waste generated, disposed and treatment facilities as per the Hazardous & Other waste (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016,” it read.

It may be noted that the PCBA chairman and OIL chairman and managing director had a telephonic talk on Monday after which the company submitted a court affidavit and other documents and data sought by the pollution board.

Subsequently, the board decided to withdraw the notice served on the company last Friday to close all operations at Baghjan oil field area where a blowout from a gas well since May 27 leading to a fire on June 9 has adversely affected wildlife and environment.

Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal had also expressed reservations over the PCBA order, considering the fact that industries and tea gardens in Upper Assam were directly dependent on natural gas produced by OIL.

There are as many as 22 active wells in the Baghjan region, 18 of them producing crude oil and four of them natural gas. The oilfield has been in operation since 2003.

The fire still rages as preparations are under way to cap the well even as authorities claim to contain the blaze by July 7.

Protests continue

Meanwhile, protests continued to be staged in a few areas outside Baghjan on Tuesday.

“Producing oil/gas wells continue to be blocked resulting in loss of oil and gas production. Further, drilling and work over operations at six locations also continue to be obstructed,” a statement by OIL said.

Surveys for assessment of damage for compensation by the committee constituted by the Tinsukia district administration are in progress. “Assessment for 369 families has been completed in Doomdooma and Tinsukia circle,” the statement said.

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