'Fracking' bonanza for 300 wells in Gujarat

Vol 19, PW 12 (25 Feb 16) Exploration & Production

Environmentalists argue that fracking pollutes groundwater, can cause tremors and even trigger earthquakes.

But contractors eyeing an ONGC tender to provide the controversial service at 300 wells are more likely to focus on the estimated Rs3cr ($438,000) it costs to frack a well in a project that could net them Rs900cr ($131m). ONGC held a pre-bid on February 23 where the usual suspects Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Weatherford were expected to attend along with a newcomer to the Indian market: Superior Energy.

"A lot of old (oil and gas) wells have ceased to produce or are producing less because of tight formations," reports an ONGC source. "Our geologists have suggested fracking to see if these wells can be revived and production enhanced.

" Such wells are spread across the Ankleshwar, Mehsana, Cambay, and Ahmedabad assets. "Around 45 to 50 (of the 300 proposed wells) are new," adds ONGC.

"Our exploration department has suggested fracking wells with low porosity. Many exploration wells need fracking.

At times we need to frack a well before testing." Most of the wells identified for fracking are less than 2500 metres deep but a few at Ankleshwar are around 3000 metres.

Some worry the ONGC tender is too good to be true and wonder if it will actually frack 300 wells.