Mercator plans 15-well Gujarat drilling campaign

Vol 15, PW 8 (20 Oct 11) Exploration & Production

Mumbai-based Mercator Petroleum is planning a 15-well exploration and appraisal programme at its onshore CB-ONN-2005/9 block in Gujarat, one of two ‘S’ blocks it operates in the state.

Mercator (100% and operator) will begin drilling by mid-2012 at the 170-sq km block spread across the Bharuch and Vadodara districts in central Gujarat. Mercator’s block was reduced in size after it faced problems securing the mandatory PEL from Gujarat state authorities.

Like IndianOil, ONGC, Focus Energy and Omkar Natural Resources before it, Mercator discovered a huge chunk of its block fell in a heavily populated area. The company was granted a PEL only in June 2010 after agreeing to shave off 37-sq km which fell in densely populated Bharuch city, leaving the company with just 132-sq km to explore.

Bharuch city lies just 2-km from the block while on the east sits Palej, a producing oilfield operated by ONGC. To the west just 11.5-km away sits the huge Ankleshwar industrial estate, known for its chemical industries.

Mercator has budgeted Rs80cr ($16.27m) for the 15 wells, eight of which will be exploration, while the remaining seven will be appraisal. Each well drilled to a depth ranging between 3500-metres and 5000-metres should take between 30-45 days.

“The maximum depth we are targeting is 5175-metres,” says Mercator. Hyderabad based Alphageo shot and processed 545-lkm 2D and 132-sq km 3D earlier this year.

This is now being interpreted by Kapil Garg controlled Oilmax, which is managing the entire exploration and production process for Mercator. In its bid Mercator also committed to reprocess 306-lkm of old 2D shot by ONGC at this 170-sq km block.

“This was one of the most fiercely contested blocks in NELP-VII,” adds a source. “Fourteen companies bought the data packages and all 14 submitted bids.