Maroon accuses ONGC of rigging MSV tender

Vol 24, PW 19 (12 Aug 21) Exploration & Production

Mumbai-based Maroon Offshore is objecting to ONGC's specifications in a tender to rehire or replace four Multipurpose Support Vessels (MSVs) and alleges ONGC has introduced them to benefit existing contractors.

Incorporated on March 20 (2020), relative newcomer Maroon voiced its concerns during ONGC's second online pre-bid on July 20 (2021) for the MSVs it wants for five years, equipped with a minimum two-person diving system. For the first time, ONGC set a maximum age limit of 19 years for the MSVs by March 31 (2021).

ONGC also said vessels should have a maximum draft or vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull of 6.5 metres and a 'free board' height or distance from the waterline to the upper deck of 2.75 metres so they can berth at its Nhava shore base outside Mumbai. Maroon welcomed the age restriction but questioned why ONGC set a maximum draft and free-board height? Maroon argued new vessels have a draft of 7.5 metres, which the contractor can reduce to 6.5 metres simply by reducing the vessel's ballast.

But the free-board height would increase automatically as the boat rises in the water. Maroon said ONGC should restrict itself to only "operational requirements" and "we will be able to meet it."

But ONGC's inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) division head AK Gupta said the specifications had been in place for 35 to 40 years and "can't be changed now." Without offering evidence, Maroon retorted that if ONGC insists on these specifications, then it must mean the tender is tailor-made for another contractor.

Maroon also reminded ONGC that it rejected MSV Paladin two years ago as the vessel didn't meet its specifications. Maroon added sarcastically that one of (ONGC's) current MSV contractors (Seamec) had bought Paladin and that it hoped the vessel would not "magically reappear" and meet ONGC's technical specifications.

ONGC said it would not comment on vessels offered in previous tenders.