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Digboi
Digboi
Location of Digboi
in Assam and India
Coordinates 27°23′N 94°38′E / 27.38°N 94.63°E / 27.38; 94.63
Country  India
State Assam
District(s) Tinsukia
Population 20,405 (2001)
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Area
Elevation

165 m (541 ft)

Digboi is a town and a town area committee in Tinsukia district in the north-eastern part of the state of Assam, India

Petroleum oil was discovered here in late 19th century and the Digboi oilfield is one of the oldest oil fields. With a significant number of British professionals working for Assam Oil Company until the decade following independence of India, Digboi had a well developed infrastructure and a number of bungalows unique to the town. It has a golf course with 18 holes as part of the Digboi Club. It has guest houses and tourist residential apartments to promote tourism in upper Assam.

Contents

Geography

Digboi is located at 27°23′N 95°38′E / 27.38°N 95.63°E / 27.38; 95.63[1]. It has an average elevation of 165 metres (541 feet).

Etymology

“‘Dig-boy,dig’”, shouted the Canadian engineer, Mr W L Lake, at his men as they watched elephants emerging out of the dense forest with oil stains on their feet”.[2] This is possibly the most distilled – though fanciful – version of the legend explaining the siting and naming of Digboi. Two events separated by seven years have become fused, but although neither is likely to be provable, such evidence that does exist appears sufficiently detailed to be credible.
Various web sites offer variations on the elephant’s foot story, a consensus of which would be that engineers extending the Dibru-Sadiya railway line to Ledo for the Assam Railways and Trading Company (AR&TC) in 1882 were using elephants for haulage and noticed that the mud on one pachyderm’s feet smelled of oil. Retracing the trail of footprints, they found oil seeping to the surface. One of the engineers, the Englishman (not Canadian) William Lake (aka "Willie Leova" Lake), was an ‘oil enthusiast’ and persuaded the company to drill a well.
Oil India Ltd makes no reference to elephants’ feet in its company history,[3] although on its previous web site the company noted that Lake had noticed “the oil seepages around Borbhil”. Once the project had been approved, Lake assembled equipment, boilers, and local labour, and engaged elephants to haul the machinery to the site. The first well was started in September 1889, but an encouraging first strike at 178 feet turned out to be a small pocket, and drilling recommenced. This continued until November 1890 when the well was completed at a total depth of 662 feet, and it was during this extended period of drilling that Oil India's old web site placed the legend of Lake exhorting one or more of his labourers to “Dig, boy!”

Digboi as an oil town

It is said that the town gets its name from the phrase "dig-boy-dig," which is what the English told the labourers as they dug for crude oil. The town's history begins in 1867 when a small group of men from the Assam Railway and Trading Co. found their elephants' legs soaked in black mud, that smelt somewhat like oil. The men began exploring more, and in 1889, the English started a small oil installation. India (and Asia) obtained its first refinery in Digboi in the year 1901. Assam Oil Company was formed in 1899 to look after the running of the oil business in this area. The Digboi oil field produced close to 7,000 barrels/day of crude oil at its peak, which was during World War II. The field was pushed to produce the maximum amount of oil with little regard to reservoir management; as a result, production started to drop almost immediately after the war. The current production from the Digboi fields is about 240 barrels/day. Over 1,000 wells have been drilled at Digboi – the first well in 1889 had stuck oil at 178 feet (54 m). In 1989, the Department of Posts, India came out with a stamp commemorating 100 years of the Digboi fields.

Today, though the crude production is not high, Digboi has the distinction of being the world’s oldest continuously producing oilfield. Digboi refinery, now a division of Indian Oil Corporation, had a capacity of about 0.65 MMTPA as of 2003. The Digboi refinery is the world's oldest oil refinery still in operation.

Digboi is now Headquarter of Assam Oil Division of Indian Oil Corporation Limited. The Earliest recorded to the existence of oil in India is found in the memories and dispatches of the Army Officers who penetrated the jungles of Upper Assam since 1825. Lt. R. Wilcox, Major A. White, Capt. Francis Jenkins, Capt. P.S. Hanney -- they all saw at different times petroleum exuding from banks of the Dihing River. Mr. C.A. Bruce (1828) and Mr. H.B. Medicott (1865) of the Geological Survey of India also saw oil while prospecting for coal in Upper Assam.

Mr. Goodenough of McKillop, Stewart & Co. Calcutta was the first in India to start a systematic programme of drilling for oil in November 1886, at Nahorpung about 30 miles (48 km) south east of Dibgoi, just seven years after the world's first commercial oil well was drilled in 1859, by Col Willam Drake in Pennsylvania, USA. This hand dug well -- the first oil well in India -- was drilled up to 102 feet (31 m) and proved dry. However the second well struck oil at Makum near Tinsukia, about 14 miles (23 km) from Digboi.

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Digboi Refinery at Present

The Digboi Refinery modernization project was taken up in large scale in order to overcome the technological obsolescence of the old refinery. Subsequently a number of other major projects were undertaken by Assam Oil Division to further revamp and modernise Digboi Refinery. This includes the Wax Hydro-finishing Unit (WHU) which is now under commissioning, the Solvent Dewaxing/Deoiling Unit (SDU) whose target date of commissioning is November 2002. The Target date of commissioning of the Hydrotreater is May'2002 and the target date of commissioning of the Vacuum Residue Short Path Distillation (VRSD) is October 2002. Digboi refinery has been awarded the ISO-14001 and OHSMC certificate.

Demographics

As of 2001 India census[4], Digboi had a population of 20,405. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Digboi has an average literacy rate of 81%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 85% and, female literacy is 77%. In Digboi, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Digboi Oil Town was considered as a separate census town in 2001 India census.[4] As of 2001 India census, Digboi Oil Town had a population of 16,584. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Digboi Oil Town has an average literacy rate of 82%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 84% and, female literacy is 79%. In Digboi Oil Town, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Culture & Economy

Digboi has always retained a British-influenced culture years into independence. Club going, golfing, swimming and tennis were lifestyles of most Digboites since a long time back. Indian Oil Company (then known as Assam Oil Company) runs its oil refinery in Digboi - "the oldest refinery in Asia". Oil is Assam's third-largest industry behind tea and timber. Dibrugarh Airport is the nearest Airport connecting to this oil town. Digboi has the following schools -

  • Government school, Digboi
  • Carmel school, Digboi
  • St. Mary's convent, Bargolai
  • A.O.D. Higher Secondary School , Digboi
  • Delhi Public School (DPS)- Digboi
  • Oil Valley School (OVS), Bogapani, Digboi http://www.oilvalleyschool.com/

Politics

Digboi is part of Dibrugarh (Lok Sabha constituency).[5]

References

See also

External links


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