Tetulia oil mine is sealed forever
PANCHAGARH, Jan 3: The people of Tirnaihat union parishad under Tentulia Upazila demanded starting of exploration work in the abandoned oil mine at Shalbahan in Panchagarh district.
In 1972 the oil well of Tentulia Shalbahan was sealed mysteriously though there was almost 80 per cent possibility to get oil from the mine.
Talking with the local people of Tentulia, enthusiastic information was received about the sealed oil mine.
Abdul Kuddus (60) of Shalbahan said that it is unbelievable that there is no oil in the mine since unrefined oil had spilled out in the ponds named ‘dighi of centre’ dug by Shell Bangladesh at the initial stage.
Still the odour of kerosene oil is found if the earth of these ‘dighi’ is collected and dried in the sun. The fishes of the ponds do not grow fast in the water contaminated by oil.
Mollika Begum (40), wife of Abdus Samad, told the correspondent that there remains the smell of kerosene oil if the fishes of these ponds are cooked. The local people had collected the kerosene oil full of bucket and jar from the ponds and stored it for long time and used it to lit lamps and lanterns, she remembered.
Shalbahan Boys high School is situated where the oil company built helipad. Headmaster of the school Jarakul Islam said that the oil mine was declared abandoned as a result of international conspiracy. It has now become the only demand of the people of Panchagarh district to take initiative to restart oil exploration at Shalbahan mine.
It is said that Shell Bangladesh started a survey on oil and gas in 1986-87 in Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Nilphamary and Kurigram districts at about 5000 spots. That company discovered oil at only 900 metre deep at Shalbahan.
After being sure of getting oil, the then president Hossain Mohammad Ershad inaugurated the oil exploration work on May 10, 1988. Tk 350 million was spent for this purpose. But all on a sudden, it was declared that there was no possibility of getting oil and thus all the functions regarding it were stopped on June 21 in the same year. The oil mine was sealed with concrete forever. The people of Shell left Shalbahan within 72 hours with strong police escort.
After a few days, surprisingly a new oil mine was discovered in India, which is only about seven kilometre away from Shalbahan oil mine. The news was published in the daily newspapers with importance. But, the then government remained inactive and did not pay any heed to the matter.
The people of Tentulia, including leaders of different social and political organisations have strongly demanded of the present government for re-investigation of the evaluation report of the then survey on oil mine, which led to its abandonment 27 years ago.
The land donors of Shalbahan oil mine Abu Talib, Sohrab Ali, Faizul Haque, Kamizuddin, Akber Ali and the then employee of Shell oil company Babul said that there was much inspiration and enthusiasm at the time of digging the oil mine. But a day before the inauguration of the oil mine, an Indian helicopter had flown over the oil mine two or three times and took photograph of the mine. After only a couple of days, it was declared that there was no possibility of getting oil in the mine and the company personnel left the field sealing the well. People think that it may be an international conspiracy for which the oil mine was sealed forever.