Oil India impatient to drill Arunachal JRB well

Vol 20, PW 19 (15 Jun 17) Exploration & Production

Oil India is racing against time to begin drilling at its JAIRAMPUR EXTENSION PEL in remote Arunachal Pradesh near the border with Chinese-occupied Tibet.

Unless work starts before the PEL expires on March 3, 2019 it risks losing the block, admits an Oil India source in Duliajan. In focus is a single commitment well at location JRB - one of five possible wells Oil India is planning at this 23.5-sq km pre-NELP permit.

Located on an inaccessible hilltop, Oil India has begun the process of acquiring 17 hectares of land for the drilling programme at JRB and will need to lay a 9.5-km winding approach road to transport equipment and services to the remote drill site. One major hurdle has already been crossed: local support.

On May 23, Oil India reported positive feedback during public hearings in the villages of Typong, Kobin and Honkap in Changlang district. "The hearings went well," adds our source.

"If forest clearance comes quickly and we get environmental clearance then locations can be identified for all five wells and drilling can begin by late 2018 or early 2019." Is this too optimistic? With 1.2m inhabitants Arunachal Pradesh is one of India's most sparsely populated states. Around 77% of the state is covered with forests making compliance with the Forest Conservation Act, 1988 a constant challenge for explorers.