Swiber calls PMO to question Neelam re-tender

Vol 19, PW 24 (11 Aug 16) People & Policy

Singapore-based Swiber is in deep financial trouble but that isn't stopping it from enlisting the help of the PMO against ONGC's unexpected decision to cancel and re-tender the Neelam redevelopment project.

PETROWATCH learns Narendra Modi's office is demanding an explanation from oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan who in turn wrote to ONGC chairman DK Sarraf in late July who in turn passed the matter on to director offshore TK Sengupta. ONGC has yet to respond but one wonders why it doesn't just point out that lowest bidder Swiber is all but defunct? On July 29 lawyers acting for Swiber applied for it to be placed under a court-approved rescue plan to avoid liquidation amid growing debt repayment demands from creditors.

Intervention from the PMO came soon after Swiber Offshore chief Nitish Gupta complained following an ONGC Executive Purchase Committee decision to scrap and re-issue the Neelam tender on June 14. This would have added one more unmanned wellhead platform in addition to two wellhead and one process platforms included in the original tender.

Gupta questioned how ONGC can scrap the tender just to add one more platform. "How does ONGC plan tenders?" wonders a source.

"How did it suddenly realise it needed an additional platform one day?" Instead of scrapping the tender, he adds, the additional platform could have been clubbed with a future tender.