Kalpana Deka Kalita
(Professor and HoD, Department of Applied Geology, Dibrugarh University)
The first well for oil was drilled in the state of Pennsylvania, USA by Edwin Laurentine Drake on 27th August 1859, which has been commemorated as a golden day in the history of oil discoveries. He was the first American to successfully drill first for oil. This well is a 21.2-m deep one and is the centrepiece of the Drake Well Museum located 5 km south of Titusville.
Just after a few years of Drake Well drilled oil was discovered in Digboi, Assam in 1889 which was a milestone of the first oil find in India. Oil history began at the head of the Brahmaputra valley in Assam that is in the extreme north-eastern corner of India in early 1800. The earliest recorded reference to oil in Assam was by Lt. R. Wilcox of the 46th Regiment.
Native Infantry 1825 he saw bubbles of gas and green petroleum rising to the surface at Supkhong that is on the upper reaches of the Namchik River. In 1828 C.A. Bruce, a tea-planter by profession writes about coming across "many oil seepages upstream of Makum for a distance of about five miles." Then there followed a series of discoveries by many 'military officials' in 1837, 1838, 1842 and 1845. With the success story of the historic "Well No. 1" in 1889 producing Commercial crude oil in Upper Assam, began the saga of the oil industry in India. The crude oil produced at Makum and Digboi were carried to Margherita for processing where a small refinery was built in 1893. Beginning with a mini refinery at Digboi in 1901, it has become a part of Indian Oil in 1981.
Hydrocarbons are the inner driving force of a nation. It is said that when oil flows then only the nation grows. The estimated hydrocarbon reserves of the North-Eastern Region have an enormous resource of 7,600 MM tonnes of which only about 2,000 MM tonnes have been discovered so far. In this growing journey of our nation, two major organizations such as Oil India Limited and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited have been continuously engaged in oil and gas operations from the inception of these organizations. The pioneering work on the geology of the Upper Assam Petroliferous Basin was carried out by the geologists of the Burmah Oil Company.
OIL, which is an integrated upstream petroleum company, is the second-largest government-owned hydrocarbon exploration, development and production corporation under the ownership of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India was founded on 18th February in 1959.
Initially, OIL was assigned the responsibility for the development and expansion of the newly discovered oil fields of Naharkatiya and Moran in Assam. In 1981, OIL became a wholly-owned Government of India enterprise.
ONGC, a Maharanta company engaged in oil and gas exploration and exploitation in 26 sedimentary basins covering 11,000 km of pipelines in the country was founded on 14 August 1956 by the Government of India under the ownership of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. ONGC Videsh has international projects in 17 countries.
To pace up with the oil discoveries and to meet the demand of technocrats in the oil industries in upper Assam, Dibrugarh University (established in 1965) started the Department of Petroleum Technology with a one-year diploma course in 1969 and the Department of Applied Geology with three years M. Tech. course in 1970 to produce technically qualified manpower for the oil industries in the country. Both the departments become a pioneer in the entire NE India imparting geosciences education and petroleum technology. The Department of Applied Geology has been offering courses such as a two-year M.Sc. in Applied Geology, two-year M. Tech in Exploration Geophysics and three-year M. Sc. Tech in Applied Geophysics with the intake of twenty-two in each programme. It has focused on the generation of knowledge in the field of earth sciences with specific reference to NE India and build up leaders capable of exploring natural resources caring for the mother planet.
Department of Petroleum Technology offers AICTE approved two-year M. Tech in Exploration and Development with an intake of eighteen students having a background in masters in geology, graduation in petroleum engineering, mechanical engineering and chemical engineering preferably with GATE. It focuses primarily on the upstream petroleum sector with an insight into the latest technological developments. It was recognized as Centre of Relevance and Excellence by Technology Information, Forecasting & Assessment Council (TIFAC), Department of Science & Technology, Government of India in 2000.
These two departments have completed 50 glorious years and have been grooming many golden technocrats having expertise in oil, water, mineral resource exploration and petroleum technology. The human resources generated in Dibrugarh University are suitably placed in various oil industries of the country and abroad displaying the flag of their alma mater. These technocrats spreading across the world are sharing their technical experiences in industries to the academicians, research scholars and students through a common platform "OUR TECHNOCRATS: OUR PRIDE" lecture series regularly created by the Department of Applied Geology.
The Department of Petroleum Engineering, a unit of the Dibrugarh University Institute of Engineering and Technology (DUIET) is a comparatively new set-up established in 2009 with due approval from the All India Council for Technical Education. It has focused on moulding undergraduate studded with, a world-class high-quality petroleum engineering education and also generating focused professionals with a global outlook in the oil and gas sector. It offers a four-year B. Tech degree in Petroleum Engineering with an intake capacity of 50 students. JEE and CEE qualified students are selected for admission. Oil companies have started recruiting petroleum engineers from the department.
Teaching, research and extension are the trinities of higher education. Industry and academia can be benefited from the capabilities of both. A productive interface between industry and academia helps to achieve certain mutually inclusive goals and objectives. In response to this initiative, OIL has instituted KDM Chair in the Department of Applied Geology in 1992 in honour of Keshav Dev Malaviya, who laid a concrete base for the petroleum industry sector of India. Since the institution of the Chair, seven Chair Professors have served and twelve different research projects have been completed during the periods from 1992 to 2020. OIL has sponsored academic research projects of an amount of around ninety lakhs in Applied Geology and Petroleum Technology. ONGC had instituted a scholarship of sixty thousand to the second-semester toppers in Applied Geology and Petroleum Technology departments and one ONGCL Gold Medal of one lakh rupees to the topper of two years M.Sc. in Applied Geology till 2016. ONGC, Assam Asset donated an amount of Rs 15.94 lakh for the installation of a Petroleum Park in the Petroleum Technology Department. This organization has sponsored a few research projects in both departments.