Watch out for MN-DWN-2002/3 offshore Orissa

Vol 8, PW 11 (25 Aug 04) People & Policy

One block of particular interest to potential bidders in NELP-V will be block MN-DWN-2002/3 in the Mahanadi basin offshore Orissa.

This 17,050-km block was offered during the last round but was withdrawn despite attracting three bidders: ONGC, Reliance-Hardy, and Niko Resources. Niko was highest bidder but was disqualified because the ministry said the companys net worth was less than its proposed expenditure for the Phase-I work programme - a key condition of the Bid Evaluation Criteria.

At the time Nikos net worth was $97.34m while it proposed to spend $127.6m during 'Phase-I. Second highest bidder ONGC was asked to match the Niko work programme but declined.

Meanwhile, it has taken the ministry almost a year to receive environment ministry clearance for the NELP-V blocks. We gave them our list of NELP-V blocks for approval last October, reveals a source.

When it comes, clearance will be with several conditions. Reserved forests, wild life sanctuaries and coastal regulated zones will not be accessible for survey work.

Some of these reserved forests exist only on paper and they (the environment ministry) themselves cannot find them on a map. But the oil ministry is not concerned.

These (protected) areas make up only 5% or 10% of the total area. They are not large areas.

Special care will be taken around marine turtle habitations where companies will be asked to limit seismic survey activity. Surveys in these locations will be allowed only after approvals.

Separately, the oil ministry is set to appoint Schlumberger consultancy Indigopool and UK-based conference organiser CWC Associates as marketing consultants for the NELP-V road show. Visits are planned to Houston, Calgary and London and possibly to Perth, Singapore and Dubai.

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