'White Knight' Shashi Shanker to help Oil India

Vol 23, PW 22 (10 Sep 20) People & Policy

Desperate for good news, the oil ministry has tasked ONGC chairman Shashi Shanker with helping Oil India find a solution to blowout well BGN-5 in Assam which continues to defy attempts to put it out.

"Shanker will visit the site in a few days," confirms a well-placed Oil India source. "We came to know of his visit last night (September 7)."

This report learns the oil ministry has asked Shanker to help Oil India, not only with current efforts to extinguish the well by inducing limited gas production, but also possible future strategies, including a 'snubbing' operation, or as a last resort, drilling a relief well. Oil India chairman SC Mishra, still recuperating from Covid-19 in Delhi, is unlikely to accompany Shanker on his imminent trip to the well, still raging out of control more than three months after the blowout erupted on May 27 (2020).

Oil India is in a tight spot as it weighs up several options to extinguish the blowout. On September 7, it abandoned the latest attempt to control the blaze because of a leak.

At 9.25am, Oil India diverted gas from the BGN-5 blowout preventer (BOP) and began flaring it in one of two nearby pits. At 9.35am, it flared gas in the second pit and by 9.45am, gas started flowing to an EPS around four-km from the well.

"But within hours there was a leak and work stopped," admits our source.