Frustrated MNCs to re-visit ONGC deepwater data

Vol 5, PW 23 (16 Jan 02) Exploration & Production

Deep water is where India will make its next big oil and gas discovery, according to ONGC, which is accelerating moves to find a partner in its much delayed deepwater programme.

We learn ONGC is opening a dataroom for one month in Dehra Dun so that interested companies can come and visit existing data. "We have written to all the companies that previously visited our dataroom for deepwater data," reveals a source.

"The response has been excellent." Surprising indeed because two years ago 17 global oil and gas companies visited ONGC's data room in an expensive time-wasting exercise which ultimately led nowhere and left a trail of bitter memories with those who went through it! "We expect 10 companies to visit the dataroom. After that we will hold discussions with them and finalise a partnership as soon as possible." Will this also be an exercise in futility Possibly not.

ONGC's 10th five year plan (2002-2007) clearly states that "the main thrust and criticality of the exploration programme in the 10th plan is in the deepwater sector which possibly holds the largest remaining hydrocarbon potential in the country." In total ONGC plans to drill 35 deepwater wells to 2007. This is four times what it proposed in the previous plan period.

There's more. ONGC has set aside Rs2, 322cr ($483m) on deepwater exploratory drilling and seismic, close to 30% of the total exploration outlay of Rs8, 650cr ($1.8bn) for 2002-2007.

See below. Year 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 Total Wells 7 3 4 16 5 35A source tells us that several of these locations will be in water depths beyond 1,000 metres.

Sagar Vijay, ONGC's deepwater drillship, will not be equal to the task. ONGC feels it needs need at least one more "ultra deepwater" drilling rig if it is to meet this schedule.