Reliance delays selection of drilling contractor

Vol 5, PW 13 (15 Aug 01) Exploration & Production

It's taking more than a month for the usually snappy Reliance Group to choose a drilling contractor to carry out its 31-well exploration programme in blocks awarded under NELP-I and earlier blocks awarded on a nomination basis.

Bids were submitted on July 2nd but no news is coming out of tight-lipped Reliance officials, despite the best efforts of interested drilling contractors. On June 6th Reliance met 10 contractors at Reliance Petroleum House in Mumbai's Ballard Estate business district, in what was described as a pre-qualification meeting (See: PETROWATCH Vol 5/9).

"They are taking an unusually long time," one contractor tells Petrowatch. "It should not take this long." Why the delay One reason, we were told, could be because Reliance is new to the oil exploration sector, while another is because the group is having to re-work its projections in the wake of vociferous objections to its unusual concept of a drilling contract from contractors attending the June 6th meeting.

One contractor, Frontier Drilling, is unworried at the delay. Frontier Drilling planned to offer its floater drillship Frontier Discoverer (capable of drilling in water depths upto 2,000 feet) for the Reliance job, but has re-jigged its schedule in the wake of a Letter of Intent from Austrian oil and chemicals group OMV AG to drill in southern Vietnam.

We learn from Hanoi that Frontier Discoverer will be on the OMV job in October-November till the end of the year.