ONGC extends drillship deadline to 28 Feb

Vol 26, PW 4 (09 Feb 23) Exploration & Production

Despite extending the bid deadline, ONGC has again shown how inflexible it is by rejecting almost all the deviations requested by likely bidders in a tender to hire two drillships.

Unease among contractors comes as ONGC announced it is extending the bid deadline from January 31 (2023) to February 28 (2023) because the pre-bid was postponed from January 3 (2023) to January 23 (2023). "Once pre-bid queries are answered, ONGC needs to give bidders enough time to find a rig and bid," says a source.

"There's nothing unusual about the deadline extension." ONGC shared answers to the queries on February 3 (2023).

ONGC wants drillships to drill 12 wells in water depths of 3000 metres on the east coast: five ultra-deepwater wells in the Mahanadi and the Cauvery basins and seven in the ultra-deep waters around the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Five companies attended the pre-bid: Transocean, whose drillship DD-KG1 is on contract with Reliance at the 98/3 block; Singapore representatives from Houston-based Vantage International, whose Platinum Explorer is on contract to ONGC until December 2023 and West Polaris with ONGC until August 2023; Brazilian driller QGOG Constellation whose Olinda Star was on contract to ONGC till August 2021; Aban Offshore which operates drillship Aban Ice; and Diamond Offshore.

One of the only queries that ONGC responded to positively was from Diamond Offshore about arranging boats in an emergency. ONGC confirmed it would provide the ships at its own cost in a crisis.

ONGC turned down Diamond's request for a total non-operating day rate (NODR) if the rig is out of action for more than three days because of bad weather - typical on the cyclone-prone Indian east coast. Similarly rejected was Transocean's request to increase the mobilisation time from 180 to 240 days because of the preparation work needed for a long-term contract, the long lead time for spares and equipment, and its request not to have a 'storm packer' on the rig.

ONGC insisted that a 'storm packer', used to abandon a well temporarily, is needed in a storm or cyclone and should be on board ready to go. Aban failed to get ONGC to allow semisubmersible offers instead of drillships, which it said are difficult to secure in a tight rig market.