IOT wins Essar 3D contract in hostile north-east

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

Essar Oil will be hoping IOT Infrastructure & Energy Services has better luck than Vienna-based CAT Geodata in shooting seismic at exploration block AA-ONN-2004/5 in India’s hostile northeast.

Essar first awarded the job to CAT in January this year but the contract was abruptly cancelled on August 10 after the Vienna-based contractor expressed helplessness in the face of terrorist threats and cash demands from local extremists from the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN). “We were helpless,” says CAT, “totally handicapped.

” CAT adds that locals routinely tampered with seismic cables delaying work by up to four days after each incident as the hilly terrain in which the block sits makes laying cables a time-consuming affair. CAT’s withdrawal forced Essar to re-issue the tender and on September 20, IOT beat Asian Oilfield by quoting Rs15cr ($3m) to win the contract to shoot 180-lkm 2D and a blanket 50-sq km 3D survey across the 46-sq km block, most of which falls in the Hulung, Bara Hulung, Phillobari and Dirok rural areas of Tinsukia district in Assam; the rest in the Nonkhan, Dumshi, Kumargaon and Bara Dumsa of remote Arunachal Pradesh.

IOT and Asian Oilfield were the only two of four bidders to make it to the price bid stage, after technical bids. IOT tells us it expects to receive Essar’s Letter of Award (LoA) this month (October) and begin the four-month survey in January next year for completion in April before monsoon rains begin in June.

Still unclear is if IOT will shoot 2D first or 3D. IOT is confident it won’t face any problems because it believes it has better relations with the local population.