Only Norwell and Blade bid for Cluster 2 work

Vol 24, PW 15 (17 Jun 21) Exploration & Production

Norwell looks increasingly likely to renew its contract for well-design, construction, completion and supervision at ONGC's eastern offshore deepwater Cluster 2 development at KG-DWN-98/2.

Only Aberdeen-based Norwell Engineering and Houston-based Blade Energy bid by the extended May 27 (2021) deadline. Many blame ONGC for the widely expected inadequate response after diluting the technical experience criteria and removing the deepwater experience condition for well completions.

ONGC says it did this to open up the race, but its plan backfired, with likely bidders fearing the race would result in fierce competition driven by the lowest price, not quality. Last week, ONGC sent out the first round of queries and was expected to issue two more sets of questions before technically qualifying bidders and opening price bids.

Norwell's three-year contract for $58m ended on June 10 (2021), leaving ONGC's project team no option but to propose to its bosses that they re-hire Norwell for another two months. Unlike rig contracts, service contracts have no extension clause to accommodate work in progress.

As a result, ONGC must award a short-term contract to Norwell without tender "as work is in full swing" at the 28 wells it has drilled at Cluster 2. "ONGC can't afford to interrupt this assignment for even one day," says a source.

"All three rigs (Platinum Explorer, Olinda Star, SSV Louisiana) are busy with well completions." Eight companies "registered" to participate in the tender, but only Norwell and Blade bid.

The other six were Singapore's Unique Oilfield Supplies & Services; Lloyd's Register Marine & Inspection Services; Delhi-based EnQuest PetroSolutions; Weatherford; Pune-based Manan Oilfield Services, and XCD Energy. Only Norwell, EnQuest and Manan attended the April 26 (2021) online pre-bid.

Speculation is rife EnQuest and Manan stayed away because ONGC formally turned down their suggestions at the May 13 pre-bid.