No Andaman acreage on offer under NELP-III

Vol 5, PW 17 (10 Oct 01) Exploration & Production

Bad news for oil and gas companies who want to anchor drilling rigs in the Andaman Nicobar group of islands.

"Andaman acreage will not be offered for bidding in NELP III," a top-level ministry source tells this report. Why We are told Indian defence ministry hawks have again raised security objections to exploration in the Andamans, home to a sizeable Indian navy base.

At the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, there's surprise and acute disappointment at the security roadblock from the Ministry of Defence. "It is silly to raise the security bogey again," reveals a source.

"There are defence bases at several key points along the Indian coast. But that hasn't stopped Indian and foreign private companies drilling in and around these locations." Preparations were in full swing at the DGH to offer Andaman acreage in NELP-III.

Russia's Laboratory of Regional Geodynamics was even commissioned to shoot 2D deepwater seismic in and around the area, where water depths reach a maximum of 1,400 metres, the deepest point being about 150-200 kilometres from the coastline. On the western side of the Andamans (Bay of Bengal) maximum depths reach 2,000 metres - about 200 kilometres from the shoreline.