Fire destroys ONGC unit at Panvel

Vol 4, PW 17 (27 Sep 00) Exploration & Production

A devastating blaze has gutted a section of ONGC's Institute for Oil and Gas Production Technology at Panvel outside Bombay.

This report learns the fire broke out in the early hours of August 30th. Petrowatch understands the blaze ripped through the entire first floor, which housed the data rooms and where working groups used to sit.

The auditorium was also affected. A short circuit is believed to be the cause of the fire.

Initial reports indicate a spark travelled through the air conditioning ducts before igniting and spreading throughout the first floor. Eyewitnesses tell Petrowatch several fire engines rushed to the spot and battled flames for more than four hours before it was extinguished.

Preliminary estimates put the damage at more than Rs10cr ($2.2m). "All the computers, software, data and a large number of documents were destroyed," he said, "Water used by the fire-fighters also caused damaged." Exploration director YB Sinha (who is holding temporary charge of operations director) and RC Gourh, technical director, flew to Mumbai immediately to assess the extent of the damage.

ONGC has launched an internal inquiry to look into the cause of the fire. Understandably, ONGC is taking great care to ensure the incident does not get into the local press.

Petrowatch understand officials are surprised at the speed with which the first floor was gutted and how the fire alarm system failed to detect the blaze. The inquiry committee has been asked to look into all aspects of the blaze.