Tullow renews interest in Indian exploration scene

Vol 9, PW 22 (23 Feb 06) Exploration & Production

Tullow Oil of Ireland once the biggest foreign acreage holder in this country is interested in India again.

Look to onshore block CB-ON/1 in Gujarat to see why. Tullow believes this is a very prospective block, says Kevin Quinn, Business Unit Manager for South Asia.

It is on trend with the Cambay basin fields to the south and the discoveries in Rajasthan to the north. The block is extremely well positioned.

It carries a reasonably high-risk profile but also a potential for high reward. In 2002, Tullow transferred operatorship and 40% of the 5875-sq km block, a small portion of which lies in Rajasthan, to Reliance but retained 50% for itself.

Okland Offshore Holdings of the US holds 10%. Working closely with Tullow, Reliance is preparing an aggressive exploration programme that could see it exceed the number of committed wells.

Our first well is planned for late 2006 or early 2007, adds Quinn. It depends on the results of seismic being acquired.

Under the PSC, the consortium must drill two exploration wells: one each in the two-year Phase-II and two-year Phase-III. We might drill more than the commitment number of wells because the block is very large compared to others awarded under NELP, says Quinn.

We hope to have drilled at least two wells by the end of Q2 in 2007. Tullows enthusiasm for CB-ON/1 is reflected in the excess 2D work carried out so far.

Under the PSC, it committed re-process a minimum 500-km 2D but has reprocessed over1500-km. It also committed to acquire 600-km fresh 2D but the consortium plans to collect 1200-km, and is also considering a 3D survey.

In December, Geofysika Torun of Poland began the 2D acquisition, which should be completed by August this year. Phase-I of the exploration work programme at CB-ON/1 ends in September.

CB-ON/1 is the only live Tullow block in India. Assam still refuses a PEL for AA-ONJ/2 where Tullow is operator with 60% and ONGC holds 40%.

At GK-OS/5 offshore Kutch, where Tullow holds 50%, operator Reliance (40%) is arguing with the environment ministry over the location of its first proposed exploration well on the block.