WesternGeco winds down India seismic surveys

Vol 16, PW 20 (02 May 13) Exploration & Production

The word is out that WesternGeco is winding down its seismic survey business in India because it is unhappy with the loss of a major ONGC assignment even though it was the lowest bidder.

PETROWATCH learns the Schlumberger subsidiary is rumoured to have downsized its India operations and shifted most of its employees to Kuala Lumpur. Blame the loss of a major ONGC contract last year to shoot 1864-sq km 3D in the western offshore.

WesternGeco quoted $55.6m including service tax but then shocked everyone by slashing its rate to $45m and then to $33m during price negotiations with ONGC. Yet ONGC wasn't satisfied and re-issued the tender last November, eventually awarding the job to Russia's SMNG which quoted a rock-bottom $25m.

“WesternGeco's management was very unhappy with how its local office handled this tender,” says an industry source. A WesternGeco source denies the company is leaving India but confirms a shift in focus away from “general seismic work” towards “specialised imaging solutions” for clients.

“This will be our focus for the next two years,” we hear. “Only projects that benefit specific clients, not general seismic surveys.

” That’s a pity as India’s seismic sector is soon expected to throw up several opportunities when the government accepts the recommendations of a Planning Commission paper circulated in March on multi-client speculative 3D surveys of Indian basins. The oil ministry had set April 29 as the date to receive comments and on May 1, oil secretary Vivek Rae and the DGH held a meeting in Delhi with ONGC, Oil India and contractors ION Geophysical, PGS, TGS Nopec, CGG, Spectrum Asia, EMGS, and Schlumberger to discuss the way forward.