GUWAHATI: An “instrumentation failure” at a major crude oil-receiving centre of Oil India Limited (OIL) in Assam resulted in "puncture pipelines", causing a massive fire on the Burhi Dihing river in the state’s Dibrugarh district.
The fire broke out three days back and reports suggest it is still raging. A senior OIL official said the visuals looked menacing but it was not a situation of high scale.
“All oil collecting stations process and crude oil finally reached our central tank pump. From there, it is pumped to Digboi on one side and rest of India on the other side. At the central tank pump, there was an instrumentation failure due to which the valves got locked. As such, the crude oil, which was being pumped into from various stations, could not enter the central pump tank. So, a reverse pressure was built in the entire pipeline network. In one or two areas, the pipeline could not resist the pressure and it punctured,” the official said.
He said in one area near Duliajan where the puncture took place, some amount of crude oil was spilled and it fell into a drain and merged with the river. The next morning, somebody must have thrown a lighted match stick or something like that at the site and it caught fire, he said.
The official said the OIL had already identified the locations of spillage using its technology and the punctures were repaired.
He said teams of the OIL were on the job to salvage wherever the seepage took place.
“We have a system to recover spilled crude oil. However, it becomes challenging when the oil gets spilled into a flowing water body. If it is a pond, the task becomes easier. Compared to past disaster situations, this is not serious as 99% of the seepage has taken place on land locations,” the official said adding, “The situation is under control as the crude, even as I speak, has possibly burned out”.