GSPC plans wells near Kolleru Lake sanctuary

Vol 15, PW 25 (28 Jun 12) Exploration & Production

By now GSPC must be regretting its decision in September 2006 to lead the only consortium to bid for onland exploration block KG-ONN-2004/2 in the NELP-VI licensing round.

Located precariously near India’s largest freshwater lake in the 308-sq km Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh, GSPC is facing several unsurprising environmental obstacles in completing the five-well drilling campaign it committed in Phase-I. Three (dry) wells have already been drilled, but before operator GSPC can begin drilling the remaining two, it needs permission from a raft of regulatory bodies, not least the DGH for a 19-month extension to Phase-I, which officially ended on January 10 this year.

“The DGH is evaluating our request,” GSPC says. “Anytime now approval should come.

” From now until the proposed Phase-I extension deadline on August 11, 2013, GSPC expects approval from three environmental agencies with direct responsibility for ensuring the sanctity of the 245-sq km Kolleru Lake, located inside the 308-sq km Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary, a major tourist attraction and home to 20 million resident and migratory birds from northern Asia and eastern Europe. These agencies are the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department, the National Board for Wildlife and the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board.

Their approval is critical, as the two remaining drilling locations identified by GSPC in the Godavari West district sit within a 10-km radius of the lake; with one well site just 5.9-km from the lake’s shore. “This is why the National Board of Wildlife is having a detailed review before giving us the go ahead,” adds GSPC.

“Even if we get clearance tomorrow we can start work only after the monsoon ends in September (2012).”