Celebrating 30 years of Mumbai High production

Vol 7, PW 24 (25 Feb 04) People & Policy

Eighteenth February is a big day in the history of ONGC.

On this day in 1974, ONGC struck oil at Mumbai High in the first well drilled by drillship Sagar Samrat. Since then, Mumbai High has grown to be Indias biggest oil and gasfield, contributing 70% of ONGCs total production.

Last Wednesday, ONGC celebrated the 30th anniversary of the discovery with much pomp and ceremony. Celebrations focused on the NA platform built around the first four producing wells.

Sitting 170-km west of Mumbai in the Arabian Sea, the NA platform is the oldest and furthest offshore Mumbai High platform. Oil minister Ram Naik headed the list of dignitaries transported to Mumbai High that morning by helicopter for the event.

Fresh paint adorned the NA platform and the BHF and BHN platforms connected by bridge. Banners hailing the occasion fluttered in the light breeze; strings of marigold, white lilies and green leaves the colours of the Indian national flag hung on the railings of the three platforms.

Patriotic songs blared in the background. After landing at the BHN platform, Naik, his junior Sumitra Mahajan, oil secretary BK Chaturvedi and ONGC chairman Subir Raha walked through the BHF platform to the lower deck of NA platform.

As cameras clicked, Naik re-enacted the start of oil production from Mumbai High 30 years ago. First, he cracked open a coconut against the valve of the first well.

Then he turned on the valve and filled two glass bottles with crude. Back at the crowded upper deck, amidst jostling photographers and TV crew, Naik and Mahajan unveiled a black marble plaque.

Later, in the BHN platform conference room, Mumbai High asset manager Kharak Singh delivered a presentation. Naik interrupted Singh for referring to the field by its old name of Bombay and not by the politically correct Mumbai High and then asked him to finish quickly, as were one hour behind schedule.