CAG says ONGC drills, “without any particular aim...”

Vol 16, PW 6 (04 Oct 12) Exploration & Production

Everyone knows it but few have the courage to say so openly: success at ONGC is measured not in discoveries of oil and gas, but in how many wells are drilled, over what time, and to what depth.

This unflattering revelation comes in a three-page report delivered to the oil ministry on September 10 by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) national audit watchdog. In the report CAG auditor Parama Sen offers a withering account of ONGC ‘best practice’ at deepwater Cauvery block CY-DWN-2001/1 in the Mannar Basin near Sri Lanka, famous as the block Brazil’s Petrobras and Norway’s Rocksource left in a hurry.

Sen describes drilling of well CY-DWN-2001/1-AA in October 2008 by Transocean-operated Discoverer Seven Seas and notes, acidly: “Instead of terminating drilling in the absence of prospectivity ONGC kept drilling through the underlying Basalt and Dolerite rock for another 245 metres without any particular aim.” Without any particular aim Yes, quite.

Sen describes in detail how after 3D interpretation ONGC wanted to explore the ‘Eocene basin floor fan complex’ expected between 3015 metres and 3715 metres TD, with the Nannilam sands ‘secondary objective’ expected between 3905 metres and 4215 metres. But, says Sen, “the targets were encountered at shallower depths: the Eocene basin floor was located between 2948 metres to 3302 metres and the Nannilam sands between 3684 metres to 3808 metres.

” Sen adds these targets were reached on October 5 and found “not to contain hydrocarbons”. He notes that drilling was called off on October 16 after additional drilling of 245 metres over 11 days “with no geological objective” resulted in wasteful expenditure of Rs13.5cr ($2.5m).

Anyone working with ONGC will find this tales all too familiar..


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