Red tape nightmare for up to 80 Oil India wells

Vol 22, PW 20 (25 Jul 19) Exploration & Production

After its OALP-2 success this month, you'd be forgiven for thinking Oil India is eager to branch out of its traditional operational area in Assam and the northeast, tired of the interminable delays in securing environmental clearance in a region which is 66% covered by dense forest, most of it protected.

At Oil India headquarters in Duliajan, there's growing frustration that over the past five years the company has identified up to 80 prospective locations for exploration wells across the northeast but can't proceed. Of immediate concern is delay in securing environmental clearance for two exploration wells in remote Arunachal Pradesh, where 81% of the state is blanketed by forest.

One is at the 113.5-sq km DEOMALI PEL and another at the 23.25-sq km JAIRAMPUR Extension PML. Three years after submitting an EIA report for Deomali, there's still no clarity if the environment ministry will approve.

Early this month (July) the environment ministry regional office in Shillong forwarded documents to Delhi regarding forest clearance for the proposed Deomali and JAIRAMPUR wells, but expectations are low. "They want more clarification from us (Oil India)," complains a source.

Another source adds Oil India anxiously awaits permission to begin drilling five explorations wells at its promising NINGRU PML, also in Arunachal Pradesh. Three are at the discovered Kumchai field: KUAU, KUAX and KUAW, and two in the West KHARSANG portion of the block.

Here again, clearance is delayed.