Countdown to price bid for ONGC's deepwater tender

Vol 7, PW 6 (04 Jun 03) Exploration & Production

TENSION IS mounting as ONGC prepares to open commercial bids for its highly charged tender for two deepwater rigs over three years.

One is forwater depths to 1,800 metres and one is for water depths to 3,000 metres. Industry sources tell this report the race for the 3,000-metre contract has narrowed down to two companies: Transocean Sedco Forex and Dolphin Drilling.

Both have submitted 'Integrated Package' (Option 1) bids comprising the day rate cost of the rig, plus associated services. A source close to Smedvig of Norway confirms it is, "out of the race" as it did not submit an'Integrated Package' bid for its West Navion rig.

On 14th April ONGC issued a controversial note to all bidders telling them that if it received a minimum of two 'Integrated Package' bids it would not open any bids in the 'Rig Only' (Option 2) or 'Services Only' (Option 3) category. Confusion surrounds exactly when ONGC will open the commercial bids.

A senior ONGC source tells this report it, "will be in the first week of June", but declined to give a firm date. Technical bids have already been vetted by ONGC Mumbai and sent to Delhi for further evaluation.

Last week ONGC asked Transocean and Dolphin to submit "clarifications" to their technical bids by a deadline of Monday, 2nd June. "We will open the commercial bids as soon as possible after that," reveals a source.

Much depends on the availability of Subir Raha, chairman of ONGC. We understand Raha has a keen interest in the tender and as head of ONGC's Executive Purchase Committee wants to ensure it runs smoothly.

Raha was in Lisbon for a conference from 27th May to 1st June and was scheduled in Dehra Dun on 2nd June.He is not planning to accompany the NELP-IV roadshow that begins in London on 5th June.