Pakistan oil blaze rages on evacuation ordered : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Sunday, April 09, 2000 -- Muharram 3, 1421 A.H.

Evacuation ordered as oil blaze rages on

By Ansar Naqvi

HYDERABAD: Besides calling in experts from Singapore and Gulf countries, technical assistance has also been sought from Union Texas, Badin concession, to control a fire in a well of OGDC, Boby Oil Field, in Tando Adam which broke out four days ago, sources in the OGDC told The News.

Meanwhile, the OGDC have advised the people living in the nearby six villages to shift to safer places, as the smoke may cause health problems. The OGDC is likely to establish a camp for them.

The foreign assistance was felt necessary due to poor fire fighting arrangements and available expertise within the country to fight oil fire. The technical experts from Singapore and the staff of the OGDC have so far failed to control the fire. The foreign experts were facing problems in controlling the fire, as the OGDC do not have the required machinery.

The government is finalising arrangements to acquire some equipment from Dubai and Singapore, which includes high speed pumps for spraying sand on flames. The equipment will take a couple of days to reach the site, a well-placed ODGC source told The News.

The OGDC experts from Islamabad and foreign experts said the chances of controlling the fire are bleak because of poor fire fighting facilities at the government-run oil field. Sources confided to The News that despite getting oil from six wells, the concerned authorities made no precautionary arrangements, like the foreign companies do. According to an official of OGDC, the Boby Oil Field was an open field, where despite sensitive installations, precautionary measures were not taken and even no security guard was deployed there. A full-fledged team of Pakistani and foreign experts is present at the oil field, where various options are being considered for controlling the fire, an official of OGDC said.

The rescue teams have planned to divert the oil flow to other points of the oil pump by causing holes at different places, so that fire could be contained and controlled at the existing point. The field comes within the jurisdiction of Tando Adam Oil Field, one of the biggest oil fields of the Sindh province.

Apart from the negligence of the OGDC, the OGDC authorities were informed that there was a dispute between a local landlord and an OGDC employee and the fire may be its outcome. The fire tenders summoned from Hyderabad, Sanghar and Mirpurkhas were returned, as they were serving no purpose there.

-- Martin Thompson (, April 09, 2000


Wednesday, April 12, 2000 -- Muharram 6, 1421 A.H.

Firefighting tools to be airlifted from Dubai, Houston

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities will airlift firefighting equipment from the emirate of Dubai and Houston, Texas, on Thursday in an effort to control the raging fire at Boby oil well in the town of Sanghar.

Officials at OGDCL say ninety percent of the equipment being used to control the blaze is indigenous and the measures would work within a particular time frame. Until now all the resources available within the country have been mobilised. Trained firemen have started reaching the site along with their sophisticated equipment, officials said on Tuesday.

After consultations with the Alert Disaster Control, officials decided not to extinguish the fire, as uncontrolled hydrocarbon, if left unburnt is more hazardous for the environment. "As soon as the capping of the well is completed, the fire will be extinguished," said an official on condition of anonymity.

On April 6, a team of senior officials reached the site, assessed the situation and consulted the authorities. They recommended that outside experts be sent in. Alert Disaster Control, one of the companies which controlled the well fire in Kuwait, reached the site on April 7 and prepared a 15-day programme to cap the well and snuff out the blaze.

At present, the fire is contained in a small area and condoned off by an earthen bund 200x200 meters, the official said. Boby well No.6, he explained, was in production when it caught fire in the early hours on April 6, due to leakage or tampering of a control valve by some person. The factual position will be established through an inquiry, he said adding the OGDCL professionals as well as District Administration and other authorities reached the site, sources added.

The district administration, police and military authorities offered and extended all material and manpower assistance to OGDCL. Apart from four huts located 500 to 800 meters away from the well, there are no villages or other form of human settlements near the site.

The inhabitants of the huts were advised to move out as a precautionary measure. No other evacuation was either ordered or undertaken, as it was not required at any stage. The reports regarding evacuation is totally unfounded and baseless, sources said.

-- Martin Thompson (, April 12, 2000.

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