Series of incidents spark fear in coastal Andhra

Friday`s blast and fire in a GAIL pipeline that claimed 14 lives have caused concern among people in coastal Andhra who are demanding proper safety measures by oil and gas companies.

IANS| Last Updated: Jun 27, 2014, 13:54 PM IST

Hyderabad: Friday`s blast and fire in a GAIL pipeline that claimed 14 lives have caused concern among people in coastal Andhra who are demanding proper safety measures by oil and gas companies.

The explosion and fire caused by suspected leakage of gas from the pipeline badly damaged Nagaram village in the Krishna Godavari (KG) basin, known for rich reserves of oil and natural gas.

The pipeline is maintained by the state-owned GAIL India Ltd. The 14 dead include women and children. Several people were injured.

The latest incident in the picturesque Konaseema region, spread over East Godavari and West Godavari districts, has triggered fear among villagers.

The locals allege that officials failed to act on their complaints of gas leakage and rusting pipeline, which carried gas to a power station.

With the state government proposing new refineries and a petrochemical region, pressure will mount for a better safety mechanism.

Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan admitted to the lack of such a mechanism.

The accident Friday is the latest in a series of incidents in the region in the last two decades. But it is the first instance of people of a residential area losing lives.

In the earlier incidents, the damage was confined to the oil and gas facilities.

As many as 25 workers were killed in a huge fire in Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) refinery-cum-petrochemical complex in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam in August last year.

In 2012, leakage of crude oil was reported twice from Oil and Natural Gas Commission`s pipeline near Tatipaka Gas Collection Station, not far from Friday`s disaster scene.

ONGC officials plugged the leak to avert a disaster. Officials claimed that miscreants had damaged the pipeline.

A blowout occurred in 2005 in an exploratory well of ONGC at Thandavapalli in East Godavari district. There were no casualties but the rig was ruined.

The region was rocked by the biggest blowout at ONGC gas well in 1995-96. The fire at the oil well in Pasarlapudi in East Godavari district raged for over 60 days.

It was put off only with the help of a team from the International Well Control. There were no casualties but ONGC suffered massive damage.