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Oil and Gas Production Severely Hit after Anti-citizenship Act Protests Erupt in Assam

The two major PSU fuel producers Oil India Ltd and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation said their gas output have totally stopped, while oil production is down by over 75 per cent after protests erupted in the state.

PTI

Updated:December 15, 2019, 9:07 PM IST
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Oil and Gas Production Severely Hit after Anti-citizenship Act Protests Erupt in Assam
People assemble for a peaceful protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill despite curfew, in Guwahati on Sunday. (PTI Photo)

Guwahati: Crude oil and gas production in Assam have witnessed a drastic fall due to the ongoing state-wide protest against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, affecting supply of petrol, diesel and LPG in many districts.

The two major PSU fuel producers Oil India Ltd (OIL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) on Sunday said their gas output have totally stopped, while oil production is down by over 75 per cent after protests erupted in the state.

"Our gas production has completely stopped. In the crude oil segment, we were producing 9,000 tonnes per day, which came down to just 1,000 tonnes," said a senior official from its field headquarters at Duliajan in upper Assam.

The company is operating only around 50 wells out of its about 400 oil and gas producing wells, he added.

The crude supply to Digboi refinery has gone down to 800 tonnes instead of 1,800 tonnes of daily plan, while the same to Numaligarh refinery has totally stopped, he said.

"Besides, drilling of our wells has fully stopped for the last six days. Our oil collection stations have also been shut by people protesting against the amended Citizenship Act. We have not been able to send gas to our clients like NEEPCO, Namrup Thermal, BCPL and Assam Gas Company," the official said.

He added that filled LPG cylinders and tankers are lying in OIL terminals as vehicle transport has come to a halt, thereby adding a risk factor to the terminals.

"Keeping LPG inventory is always dangerous because of its highly flammable nature," he said.

On Saturday, the OIL appealed to people of the state in local papers to allow it to carry out day-to-day operations, which the firm said, have been "severely impacted".

An official of the ONGC said that its daily oil output has fallen to 1,650 tonnes from 2,200 tonnes. "Our gas production has completely stopped. Drilling facilities have also come to a halt after the protests started. The situation is grim as our central tank can stock fuel only for 3-4 days," he added.

PSU major Indian Oil Corporation said vehicle fuel and LPG supply in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Golaghat and Jorhat districts in upper Assam have been severely affected. "As per our information, petrol depots in these five districts have dried up.

LPG distribution is also affected as transporters are not able to send their trucks," said IOC Chief General Manager (Indian Oil-AOD) Uttiya Bhattacharyya.

However, he said that fuel supply in other districts of Assam and neighbouring states are not affected as the company is sending tankers with police escorts.

"The Guwahati and Bongaigaon refineries are functioning normally. All our tankers and trucks are moving under heavy police protection and we are not taking chances," Bhattacharyya said.

A Numaligarh Refinery spokesperson said their employees could not go to the plant from the township as their vehicles were torched a few days ago.

An official of the state-run power major NTPC's Bongaigaon plant said that coal from Margherita mines in Tinsukia district is not reaching the plant. "However, our production is not affected as we also get coal from Raniganj in West Bengal," she added.

Violent protests had erupted in the city and other parts of the state earlier this week after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament, with agitators engaging in pitched battles with the police, forcing the administration to impose curfew.

So far, a total of 175 people have been arrested and 1,406 taken into preventive custody ever since violence erupted in the state over the citizenship law, police said on Sunday.

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