ONGC hires Boots & Coots to control damaged well

Vol 15, PW 1 (14 Jul 11) Exploration & Production

Eyebrows were raised last month when ONGC hired Halliburton subsidiary Boots & Coots, without floating a tender, to control a damaged well at the G-4-AF deepwater location in the KG basin.

PETROWATCH learns ONGC hired well-control experts Boots & Coots in June to manage the drilling of a ‘relief well’ at the G-4-AF well location at a staggering cost of $98m. This is on top of the $23m already paid to Boots & Coots for a failed ‘direct surface intervention’ at well G-4-AF, drilled and abandoned in April 2009 by ONGC-owned rig Sagar Vijay, which also lost the crucial Blow out Preventer (BoP).

According to an industry source, only when pressure at G-4-AF crossed 13,000-psi and the risk of a ‘blow-out’ loomed large did ONGC finally realise it must do all in its power to prevent a BP-style Macondo disaster in Indian waters! ONGC could have ‘controlled’ well G-4-AF much sooner and for just around $50m if it had heeded the advice of Cudd Pressure Control, a rival to Boots & Coots, he adds. Soon after the well was damaged in 2009, Boots & Coots offered to repair G-4-AF for $70m.

But ONGC declined this offer and issued a limited tender in November 2009, inviting well-control proposals from Cudd, Wild Well Control and Boots & Coots. Wild Well and Boots & Coots suggested direct surface intervention, using a ‘riser’ with the help of a rig and placing another BoP on top of the old BoP to control and salvage the well.

But Cudd suggested ONGC drill a relief well and later convert this to a ‘producing replacement well’. ONGC, which didn’t like the idea at the time, never opened Cudd's price bid and awarded the direct surface intervention contract in early 2010 to Boots & Coots which emerged the lowest bidder, quoting $23m against Wild Well’s quote of around $40m.