More than 100 employees of state-owned Oil India Ltd (OIL), including its chairman and two directors, were infected with coronavirus but have since recovered, sources said. The employees, as well as senior executives of the company, had contracted the virus last month when they were in Tinsukia district of Assam to contain a massive fire at the Baghjan gas field.
OIL Chairman and Managing Director Sushil Chandra Mishra, two directors on the company board, the head of the local unit of the company at Baghjan, local HR head and the entire blowout prevention team contracted COVID-19, sources in the know of the development said. Also 13 out of the 14 employees of Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), who were assisting OIL in the controlling the fire, too contracted coronavirus, they said adding most of those who contracted COVID-19 were working on Baghjan.
Sources said all the employees except one have recovered and have tested negative. On June 9, a massive fire had engulfed a natural-gas producing well of OIL that had been leaking gas after a blowout on May 27.
The fire has continued to rage for close to three months now as efforts to 'kill' the well have failed so far. The company is now attempting to divert gas from the well so as to reduce pressure and help kill the well, sources said.
To stop a well from flowing or having the ability to flow oil or gas is called killing the well. The well was producing 100,000 standard cubic metres per day (SCMD) of gas from a depth of 3,870 metres before the blowout in May, according to OIL.
After the fire broke out, an exclusion zone of 1.5-km was established and about 2,500 people evacuated.