Sanctions hit ONGC technology acquisition

Vol 3, PW 17 (15 Sep 99) Exploration & Production

Continued economic sanctions against India are causing a major headache at ONGCs data processing division - GEOPIC - attached to the Keshava Deva Malviya Institute of Petroleum Exploration at Dehra Dun.

Under threat is the supply of state-of-the-art silicon graphic data processing technology from the Israeli-based company, Paradigm Geophysical. Paradigm is headquartered in Israel but produces most of its kit in the US - the most vocal proponent of sanctions against India.

Officials at ONGC fear the US Department of Commerce will not approve export of the equipment to India in time for its proposed installation in September 2000. The cost of the updated software is valued at an estimated Rs45 ($10.5m).

One source claims it will double GEOPICs data processing capability, putting the institute on a par with services offered by PGS and Western Geophysical. GEOPIC presently operates outdated UNIX-based IBM software which permits only time-domain processing, and not complete model or depth processing.

Delay in receiving the new equipment is likely to put back GEOPICs ambition of becoming a big league data-processing institution, not just for ONGC but for overseas oil explorers in India. Government policy allows ONGCs research institutes to operate as independent profit centres.

But outdated technology means most requests made by overseas companies to GEOPIC are refused.