Offshore NELP-IV blocks will attract the bidders

Vol 7, PW 7 (18 Jun 03) Exploration & Production

CONTRAST THE poor prospectivity of the 11 onland blocks with the 13 offshore blocks that will certainly attract most interest and save the day for NELP-IV.

Twelve of the 13 offshore blocks are deepwater blocks spread between the Andaman, Kerala-Konkan, Gujarat-Saurashtra, Mahanadi and the highly prospective Krishna Godavari basins. Water depths here range from 1,000 metres to 3,000 metres; the sedimentary thickness from 7,000 metres to 9,000 metres and well depths to reach 'basement' would be 11,000 metres.

"The average well depth for these blocks will have to be more than 5,000 metres," a geologist tells us. "The geology looks interesting, but you must keep in mind the high costs and high risks involved in drilling at such depths." Getting these blocks would make sense to companies already working in the vicinity: Reliance, ONGC, Cairn Energy, Gujarat Petroleum and Niko Resources.

Geologists expect good competition for the five Mahanadi and North Eastern Coast blocks and the one KG block. Interest in the KG basin has intensified since Reliance's announcement of a 10 tcf gas discovery in its NELP-I Block KG-DWN-98/3 and gas discoveries at Cairn Energy's neighbouring NELP-I block KG-DWN-98/2.

But a word of caution: "Don't expect to find any oil here," adds our expert. "The chances are for more gas finds because the eastern offshore sediments are highly matured." Also promising is the Gujarat-Saurashtra deepwater block GS-DWN-2002/1.

The water depth in this block is about 3,000 metres. "This block is prospective because it lies along the trend of the South Sindh Basin." Finally, don't forget the two most exciting blocks of all inthe Andamans Islands basin.

Even here, look for gas and if you find it, prepare to surmount the most important obstacle of all: getting it to market in mainland India. All in all, nine of the 13 offshore blocks will most likely attract good interest.