ONGC Videsh plans 2D seismic programme in Iraq

Vol 6, PW 8 (19 Jun 02) Exploration & Production

TRY AS IT might, the US government is clearly unable to persuade Delhi to clamp down on Indian companies working with Iraq, one of three countries in President George W.

Bush's 'Axis of Evil'. Take ONGC Videsh.

We understand OVL is busy drawing up a six-month programme to shoot 2D seismic at Block 8, which it was awarded in November 2000. "This is a proven field with an estimated billion barrels," reveals a source.

"But the existing data is 20 or 30 years old and in bad shape. We have transferred it to small tapes, set up an archiving system, got the tapes to India for reprocessing and are now reinterpreting the data." After fresh 2D, OVL will draw up an exploration and development plan for Block 8.

Back in the 1970s ONGC drilled a well in this 10,000-sq metre field and struck oil at 2,000 b/d. However,the Iran-Iraq war intervened to stop more drilling.

Today UN sanctions are the biggest obstacle and OVL admits work could proceed faster if sanctions were lifted. OVL is also in the final stage of negotiating a stake in Iraq's Tuba oilfield.

Reliance and OVL each hope to buy 30% with Algeria's Sonatrach holding the rest. Tuba is a discovered oilfield with several existing wells drilled and capped.

Here OVL predicts production can exceed 300,000 b/d but the consortium wants to cap it at 140,000 b/d. "Production can be sustained for a longer period and more economically this way." Again, only UN sanctions separate the consortium from signing a deal.

Diplomatic and political efforts are underway to find a solution without running foul of the UN.

LNG Summit