Teli confirms ONGC drilling in Tamil Nadu

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

Junior oil minister Rameshwar Teli has confirmed ONGC plans to drill 15 exploration wells at its pre-NELP block L-I in Tamil Nadu despite vocal opposition to oil and gas exploration from the state government.

Teli told the Rajya Sabha upper house in a written statement on August 4 (2021) that "ONGC plans to drill ten exploration wells in Ariyalur district and five in Cuddalore district." Teli said: "Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) studies have been submitted to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA)."

On June 15 (2021), ONGC asked the Tamil Nadu SEIAA to approve the proposed Ariyalur district wells and the next day submitted a similar application for the Neyveli area wells. "We are planning to spend up to Rs50cr ($6.7m) to drill each well, but the cost may vary depending on TD," confirms a Chennai-based ONGC source.

He adds the total project cost for the Ariyalur campaign is Rs400cr ($54m) and for the Neyveli campaign Rs200cr ($27m). ONGC wants to drill the wells to between 3000-5200 metres TD, targeting Basement, Andimadam, Bhuvanagiri and Nannilam formations and Tertiary sediments, according to an EIA report from Vimta Labs.

ONGC won the PEL for L-I on April 1 (2004), but the seven-plus-two-year term ran out on December 30 (2012). During the PEL period, ONGC drilled ten wells at the block: RDP-1, BV-10, ERM-1, PT-1, KA-40, AY-2, BV-11, SZ-1, PT-2, and TKD-3 to test Andimadam, Bhuvanagiri, Nannilam and Kamalapuram formations.

Well BV-11 showed commercial quantities of hydrocarbons for the first time from Bhuvanagiri formations. On June 13 (2021), Tamil Nadu chief minister CM Stalin wrote to Narendra Modi, calling on the oil ministry to withdraw the 463.2-sq km CY/ONOSDSF/Vadatheru/2021 area from DSF-3 following vociferous protests from local farmers against more E&P in the state.