At last ONGC wins approval to drill 300 wells

Vol 15, PW 21 (03 May 12) Exploration & Production

When India’s most powerful bureaucrat takes action, things happen - and fast! Intervention by PMO principal secretary Pulok Chatterjee has paid off for ONGC which last month received delayed environmental clearance for 300 planned wells across 38 onshore and 10 offshore blocks.

Environment ministry officials had no choice but to hold a special meeting on April 14 exclusively to clear ONGC’s drilling proposals, some pending for over a year. After nine hours of presentations, a 10-member panel headed by former Hindustan Petroleum chairman MB Lal approved ONGC’s plans to drill 190 exploration wells at 33 onland Cambay basin blocks; and cleared another 40 development wells at onland KG basin blocks PEL-1A and PEL-1B, sprawling across Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari, West Godavari and Krishna districts.

“It’s certainly a huge relief,” says an ONGC source. “The environment ministry has cleared these wells in one go.

Some of them are of national importance.” He adds that the environment ministry also cleared three exploration wells at NELP-VI onland block PA-ONN-2004/1 in the Purnia district of West Bengal; and two other exploration wells received the green light at NELP-VI onland block VN-ONN-2004/1 in Rajasthan’s hilly Chittorgarh district.

ONGC can also go ahead with onshore exploration wells proposed at pre-NELP block AA-ONJ/2, straddling Assam, Manipur and Mizoram. Across six offshore KG basin NELP-VI and NELP-VII blocks, ONGC received permission to drill 10 exploration wells.

Most significantly it received permission for 27 exploration wells at offshore NELP discovery block KG-DWN-98/2, where Cairn India holds 10%, and an adjacent pre-NELP block. Other offshore exploration wells cleared are at Cauvery basin NELP-VI blocks CY-PR-DWN-2004/1 and CY-PR-DWN-2004/3 in Tamil Nadu.