ONGC denies siphoning off Changpang crude

Vol 20, PW 18 (01 Jun 17) People & Policy

No evidence supports it - but landowners in Nagaland's Wokha district suspect ONGC wants to siphon off oil from the Changpang oilfield through a directional well across the border in Assam.

Under scrutiny is exploration well BR-59 or BRAJ at the Borholla oilfield in ONGC's Jorhat asset, which ONGC spud on February 27 with rig E-2014-24 drilling less than 150 metres from Changpang. During a site visit on May 27, this report learns ONGC will flow 250 b/d from BR-59 in June to a nearby Group Gathering Station (GGS) after striking oil at 2847 metres.

"Oil flows underground like a river," we hear. "So oil flowing beneath Changpang can easily be extracted a few metres away in Assam." No one fears this more than Lithao Kithan, one of 21 local Changpang and Tsori village landowners who cite Article 371A of the Indian constitution that gives Naga landowners and not Delhi commercial rights to oil beneath their land.

"ONGC must be taking away our (Changpang) oil," says Kithan. Clearly visible on Kithan's land are five abandoned ONGC wells circled with concrete walls to prevent oil spill.

"When ONGC left," adds Kithan, "it didn't even plug the wells." When contacted, outgoing Jorhat asset manager RK Vij denied directionally drilling well BR-59. "No directional drilling is taking place anywhere at the Jorhat asset," he told this report on May 29.

"Village fears are misplaced."

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