Raha criticises Nathu Lal over CBM drilling time

Vol 5, PW 10 (04 Jul 01) Exploration & Production

Subir Raha, new chairman of ONGC, clearly hates inefficiency - particularly among directors on the board.

Shortly after assuming office, Raha made a worrying observation on a visit to Calcutta where ONGC is overseeing its coal bed methane (CBM) exploration programme. "He reviewed the status of CBM exploration," reveals a source And noticed that it takes us 20 days to drill a CBM well against the world benchmark of 2 days!" Back in Delhi on 13th June Raha wrote an internal memo to ONGC drilling director Nathu Lal asking for an explanation.

Raha's anger reflects a personal interest in CBM. He instructs Lal to set up a "multi-disciplinary team" with help from the Institute of Drilling Technology (IDT) in Dehra Dun "to provide drilling support exclusively for CBM exploration" and wants this team to "prepare a plan to reduce the drilling time of a CBM well." He also gives IDT permission to hire a CBM consultant on condition it pays from its own budget.

Lal has until 15th July to come up with an explanation and a "status report" for Raha on what he plans to do about reducing the time it takes to drill a CBM well from 20 days to two. Raha also wants ONGC to prepare a policy paper on CBM exploration "clearly indicating the short and long term marketing strategy for sale of CBM" for presentation to the Executive Committee by the end of August this year.

ONGC is developing CBM at Jharia in West Bengal and Raniganj in Bihar.