Gloomy seismic outlook worries contractors

Vol 16, PW 11 (13 Dec 12) People & Policy

Desperate for work, IOT Infrastructure & Energy Services and Shiv Vani are convinced the onland seismic market in India is slowing down.

Mumbai-based IOT complains it will be forced to remove 25 employees from the regular payroll from February and keep them on standby until it wins new assignments. IOT has an Essar contract until February to shoot 180-lkm 2D and a blanket 50-sq km 3D survey at its 46-sq km AA-ONN-2004/5 block in Assam.

It won the job after Vienna-based seismic contractor CAT Geodata quit over terrorist threats from local separatists; CAT subsequently closed down its operations in India. “We cannot be selective about jobs anymore,” says IOT.

Shiv Vani too is struggling to find work for its nine seismic crews. “All our crews are sitting idle,” says Shiv Vani.

“We haven’t won a seismic job since March this year. Competition is tough and companies are bidding unreasonably low rates, compromising the technical quality of data.

” Shiv Vani shot 600-sq km 3D in total this year on contracts won last year and has shot only 500-sq km 3D on average every year over the past five years. "We are not hopeful of winning much work at NELP-IX blocks,” says Shiv Vani.

“There are only 13 small onland NELP-IX blocks, most re-cycled from earlier rounds.” Only three seismic survey jobs are on the market.

Cairn wants EoIs for a Rs300cr ($54m) contract to shoot 1500-sq km 3D in Rajasthan; Bharat Petro Resources (BPRL) has invited EoIs to shoot 10-lkm 2D and 42-sq km 3D at CB-ONN-2010/8; and Deep Industries has issued a Rs5cr ($920,000) tender to shoot 590-lkm 2D at VN-ONN-2010/2.