ONGC’s quick intervention has helped plug a massive gas leak and prevented a big fire in an Andhra Pradesh gas field that was originally discovered by the state-run firm but auctioned to a small private player three years ago by the government.
Following a desperate call from the field operator, PFH Oil and Gas, on Sunday afternoon, ONGC executives from the nearest base in Andhra Pradesh mounted a 40-hour operation, deploying their expertise, men, material and sophisticated equipment to plug the leakage that had the potential to spark an inferno of the like Andhra Pradesh had seen five years ago, people familiar with the matter said. A 2014 gas pipeline fire in Andhra Pradesh had killed more than two dozen people.
PFH Oil and Gas executive director Harsh Poddar didn’t return calls made to his office. His cell phone was switched off when ET tried calling him.
PFH Oil and Gas had won the auction for three oil and gas fields of the 46 the government had auctioned in 2016 under its policy of letting private players operate small fields that were once discovered by ONGC and OIL but not yet developed. The private operators were offered liberal fiscal terms to operate these fields. Most of the private players participating in the discovered fields round were not established names in the upstream business.
Winners of the fields are yet to begin commercial production and many of them are yet to obtain environmental clearances.
The Sunday incident happened while PFH employees were working on a well in their field in Uppudi village of East Godavari district. A very high-pressure gas started gushing from the well with a noise that could be heard for half a kilometre, sending panic waves among villagers, an eyewitness said. The PFH executives called the administration, which helped evacuate villagers, and made a distress call to ONGC which sent its crisis management team to the spot in about 2-3 hours, according to people familiar with the matter.
ONGC team worked for about 40 hours continuously, bringing in multiple teams of employees, material and equipment and successfully plugged the leakage on Tuesday morning, they said.