OIL gets nod to drill in Assam's Dibru Saikhowa Park

Centre clears OIL plans for drilling in Assam's Dibru Saikhowa Park

The Oil India Limited (OIL) on Wednesday (May 20) said that union ministry of environment, forest and climate change accorded environment clearance for extension of drilling for hydrocarbon exploration inside Dibru Saikhowa National Park in eastern Assam.

In a statement emailed to DH, the oil PSU said the clearance for extension drilling and testing at seven locations under the national park was given as part of the Centre's target to reduce 10% imports and the Northeast Vision 2030.

The Centre's decision led many environmentalists in Assam express concern that this could disturb the ecology and environment of the 340 sqkm (core area) national park that houses at least 36 mammals, birds, reptiles and is one of the major tourist attractions.

Reacting to such apprehensions, OIL, however, assured that the drilling would have no impact on the Dibru Saikhowa Park situated in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts. 

"In order to tap the hydrocarbon resources underneath the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, OIL had approached statutory bodies for obtaining necessary permissions in 2016 on the basis of the Extended Reach Drilling (ERD) technology, which will enable OIL to drill for hydrocarbon without drilling inside the national park," said a statement issued by Tridiv Hazarika, deputy general manager (CSR and CC), OIL.

He said the ERD techniques are extensively used to intersect hydrocarbon targets far from the surface or areas of the reservoir which otherwise are difficult to access. "By using this technology wells can be drilled up to a depth of approximately 4 kilometres from the existing well plinth without entering the protected area. Through ERD technology, OIL will reach the target depth of around 3.5 Kms beneath the surface of the national park without carrying out any drilling activity inside the national park. This is a state of the art technology where drilling will take place more than 1.5 kilometres outside the demarcated area of the national park, where OIL is already carrying out hydrocarbon exploration since 15 years (Baghjan area). OIL once again reiterates that no disturbance to the environment and Dibru-Saikhowa national park is envisaged due to use of ERD technology," it said.

He said if commercial viability of hydrocarbon production is established, then the production of oil and gas would help in meeting energy needs of the country and will also lead to the socio-economic development of the area and its vicinity. The commercial production from this area shall enable OIL to meet the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi towards 10% reduction in imports and also fulfilling North East Vision 2030," he said.