Andaman blocks spark most interest in NELP-IV

Vol 7, PW 6 (04 Jun 03) Exploration & Production

EXPLORATION ACREAGE in the Andaman Islands is generating most interest among explorers examining 24 blocks on offer under NELP-IV.

In a straw poll conducted by this report several explorers mentioned the two Andaman blocks enthusiastically. "Andaman acreage is interesting because of the lure of the unknown," one multinational tells us.

"But there's a lot of business opportunities globally right now so I expect the bidders will be the usual players active in the first three NELP rounds, rather than attracting a bunch of new players." Echoing this, a contractor adds: "The DGH is hopeful that several majors will participate butwe have heard that before on each of the last NELP announcements. I am sure all the regular players will again participate." Another company said: "Unexplored Andaman acreagecould hold potential if some companies run 3D on it." One company was more circumspect.

"There are some big structures and potential for a lot of gas but where do you take it There's no demand in the Andamans and you'll need a very long pipeline to get it to India." One possibility would be to build an LNG terminal, he added. Located in the Bay of Bengal, few can deny the Andaman blocks are technically challenging.

Water depths stretch to 2,000 metres at AN-DWN-2002/1 and 2,400 metres at AN-DWN-2002/2. "This is not insurmountable, argues the DGH.

Reliance has shown us it can make a commercial discovery at 1,378 metres." Still, neither block has seen anexploration well and only the DGH has carried out limited seismic: 1,556-km 2D at AN-DWN-2002/1 and just 535-km 2D at AN-DWN-2002/2.This is the first time the region has been opened up to exploration after years of opposition from a security conscious Ministry of Defence.

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