Premier Oil gets operatorship of second Assam block

Vol 7, PW 9 (16 Jul 03) Exploration & Production

BRITISH OIL and gas explorer Premier Oil is now operator at a second exploration block in India.

On 20th June, Shastri Bhawan approved Premiers replacement of Essar as operator of block CR-ON-90/1 in Assam. Premier must now submit a bank guarantee and parent company guarantees.

As it prepares to begin physical work on the block, Premier will be worried that the three-year 'Phase-I' of the minimum work programme expired on 12th July. Premier wanted a year's extension, but the management committee on 9th July approved only an 11-month extension and sent across the request to Shastri Bhawan for its final approval.

Premier is currently reprocessing 100-km old 2D shot on this block. It is also required to shoot 200-km fresh 2D as part of 'Phase-I'.

The two-year 'Phase-II' requires Premier to drill one well to a target depth of at least 2,500 metres. In the two year 'Phase-II', Premier will have to drill two wells each to a target depth of at least 2,500 metres.

Block CR-ON-90/1 measures 2,540-sq km and was awarded to Essar Oil, Hindustan Oil and the Assam Company during the 8th round of bidding. A PSC was signed on 30th June 1998 and operator Essar received the Petroleum Exploration Licence mid-2000.

Meanwhile, exploration work continues at Premiers other Assam block AAP-ON-94/1 where it received Shastri Bhawan approval on 14th January 2003 to farm in and replace Hindustan Oil as operator. Premier has just finished shooting 120-km 2D on this block and is now busy reprocessing old seismic.

This 870-sq km block was also awarded during the eighth round to HOEC (operator), Oil India and General Fibres. Premier is now operator with 38% stake and its partners are IOC with 27%, Oil India with 10% and HOEC with 25%.

IOC is keen to take a stake in CR-ON-90/1.