The 96 hour oil blockade in Assam, called by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), against oil and exploration giant ONGC has hit hard the corporation. ONGC has incurred an estimated loss of Rs 60 crore.
There were also reports of loss of property and vehicle as the oil-blockade took violent turns at many places yesterday and today. As many as 20 vehicles of ONGC were torched by miscreants, besides manhandling many office staff during the blockade period, a senior official from ONGC said. He added that disruptions and damage of property at oil collection centres could be minimised as security personnel were deployed well in advance.
The blockade was called by AASU, in association with few other groups, for the alleged move by the company to hive off its operations in Assam and sell it to private parties.
But the company has been steadfastly denying any such move on its part. “I want to make it very clear that ONGC has no such plan to privatise or hive off Assam Asset. All these are just speculations and baseless. The ‘Assam Renewal Project’ was well on line and the company was working to improve the efficiency and productivity of the oil fields in Assam,” was what a top official from ONGC had told Business Standard a week back.
Prior to the commencement of the oil-blockade, ONGC had tried to win over the agitating groups and “dispel the speculation of sell off” by holding several meetings but those did not yield any result, a company source said.
He added that ONGC had to incur a daily loss of around Rs. 20 crore due to the blockade. Besides, he added that as crude oil collection at few oil fields were disrupted; the loss would be much more in the long run. Though he admitted decline in total crude oil output of the company due to the blockade, he could not quantify it. The company had last week announced a Rs.2,400 crore investment, as part of its ‘Assam Renewal Project’, for modernisation of surface installations and facilities and enhancement of operational efficiency in the state. It has been the largest ever one-time investment by ONGC in Assam. The project would also include creation of integrated complexes, revamp of 1200 kms of pipelines and modernisation of associated surface infrastructure.
Hyderabad-based Sairama Engineering Enterprises, Megha Engineering, in consortium with Russian company Volgo bagged the Rs. 2,400 crore contract. ONGC’s Assam Asset is headquartered at Nazira in Sibsagar district in upper Assam. All the operations of the company are centred in or around the district.