Place: Magurchara gas field, Moulvibazar, Bangladesh.
The day began like any other in the village of Magurchara Khasi Punji, located about 600 meters from the Magurchara gas field. But, it rapidly turned into a nightmare towards dawn. The residents of the village were startled out of their slumber by the sound of a deafening explosion. As people came out of their homes to investigate, what they saw was a towering inferno that seemed to light up everything for miles round. The sky itself was orange with the blaze and the smell of smoke and ash was enough to force the people into immediate action. Families who were in danger, scurried away to pack their belongings and find a safer haven before the roaring tongues of fire reached their tiny little village.
It was a terrifying sight for those who saw the blaze. And the terror remained for twenty-one days before finally dying down. Bangladesh had just witnessed its worst ever man made environmental disaster. And people were unsure how to react. For a country riddled with destruction every year from the forces of nature in the form of monsoon rains and floods, a gas explosion was a situation nobody had ever had the foresight to anticipate. Moreover, this lack of foresight was the main cause of what later became an issue that caught national headlines all across the country. The Magurchara blow out would bring into limelight many ethical issues concerned with gas exploration and compensation for damage in case of gas well blow outs.
FACTS OF THE CASE.
Magurchara is the name of the locality situated on the Moulvibazar gas reservoir in the Surma basin, an area rich in hydrocarbon reserve. This reservoir contains gas at suitable depths and is made of a layer of sand stone with sufficient porosity and permeability to produce gas when a producing well is drilled and developed. There are a number of formations consisting of such sandstone layers which are called pay zones.