After five years Premier Oil invited for PSC talks on Ratna

Vol 3, PW 23 (08 Dec 99) Exploration & Production

They say miracles do happen and so it is with the Ratna and R Series of oilfields in the Bombay Offshore.

Exactly five years after the fields were first put out to tender and after countless false alarms, the Indian oil ministry has at last called the parties to begin talks on a Production Sharing Contract (PSC). In a letter dated 23rd November, the ministry invited consortium partners Essar Oil (with 50%), state-run explorer ONGC (with 40%) and Premier Oil (the operator with 10%) to come to Delhi on the 1st (Wednesday), 2nd (Thursday) and 3rd (Friday) December, to begin a process which will lead to a PSC, a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) and a crude sales agreement.

A source in Delhi tells Petrowatch that on Wednesday, the oil secretary Subbaram Narayan (in a classic under-statement) began a 20-minute meeting by apologising for the delay in sending the invitations (!) but asked the consortium not to dwell on the past. He said the government is determined to push the contract through fast, and asked the consortium to aim for a signed PSC within 60-90 days, i.

e. by end February next year.

On Thursday, the team from Essar and Premier was introduced to a three-man government negotiating team of two Indian oil ministry bureaucrats and Debarata Ray, the Bengali head of ONGCs Exploration Contracts Monitoring (EXCOM) wing and in the race to become ONGCs new exploration director. Friday was spent in detailed talks with ONGC, to resolve outstanding issues.

A source close to the talks described them as, extremely positive. Industry analysts tell Petrowatch, the Ratna and R Series of oilfields contain approximately 100m barrels of recoverable reserves.

It is understood the concession has the potential to plateau at a production rate of 25-30,000 b/d and has a life span of between 18-20 years. First production could begin as early as the middle of 2001 or 12 months from the date of a PSC signing, most likely by re-entering R-12 where a platform already exists.