Rising insurgency in Assam could soon claim another victim—the state’s environment. The Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) wants to replace its exploration and production (E and P) infrastructure in the state, including old pipelines and crude gathering stations, but cannot do so because of the deteriorating law and order situation.
Some of these haven’t been replaced since ONGC started operating the fields in the mid-1960s, and pose both an environmental and a safety hazard. ONGC has three fields at Rudrasagar, Geleky and Lakwa in Assam, with an annual crude yield of 11 million barrels (1.5 million tonnes).
Assam has been witness to endemic violence orchestrated by insurgent outfits such as the United Liberation Front of Assam, the Muslim Liberation Tigers of Assam and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, and the Bodo Liberation Tigers.
“The work (replacement) programme is a massive one,” said an ONGC executive, who did not wish to be identified. “But it is not safe for our personnel to go to the remote areas where the infrastructure is.”
ONGC is one of the biggest employers in a state that has been affected by insurgency. Its efforts to replace E and P infrastructure is part of a Rs4,000 crore Assam Renewal Plan, which is targeted to double its annual production of 11 million barrels.
“We have to change and revamp the group crude gathering stations to achieve our production targets and they have been stuck on account of this problem,” the executive added.