ONGC needs to fix broken e-tender process

Vol 18, PW 17 (23 Apr 15) People & Policy

ONGC’s online bidding system is riddled with flaws and something needs to be done, say disgruntled contractors who are planning to lodge a complaint with the company this month (April).

Take Singapore-based Swiber’s inability to upload its bid in the keenly watched estimated $900m MHSRD-III tender last month (March). ONGC received bids by 4pm on March 16 from L&T, National Petroleum Construction Corporation (NPCC), McDermott, and Kencana.

Swiber would have offered strong competition, but a computer glitch prevented it from participating. And this is not the first time this has happened.

An angry industry source has prepared a list of 17 offshore EPC tenders worth a total $4bn where ONGC’s electronic procurement system failed since it was introduced in October 2009, replacing paper bids. Last month (March) a similar glitch forced ONGC to extend the bid deadline by two hours for the BCPA-3 tender, following complaints from bidders.

Before that, in December 2014, there was a similar situation in the last C-26 pipelines tender, but ONGC did not extend the deadline as requests were received after 4pm. In April 2014, a similar breakdown forced ONGC to extend the deadline in the MHNRD-III wellhead platform tender.

What is the way out? “A solution would be for ONGC to allow bidders to submit technical bids in paper format and ask for just the price bids online,” says a source.