Seismic survey planned of Andaman Islands

Vol 4, PW 15 (30 Aug 00) Exploration & Production

It is still unclear exactly how many blocks will be offered under NELP-2 or where they will be located.

What is known is that the oil ministry, in conjunction with the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, is sticking by the figure of between 25-30 blocks when tenders are issued later this year. Many of these are expected to be deepwater blocks on the west coast and in the Gangetic Plain in northern India on the border with Nepal.

Here, the DGH intends to acquire more seismic lines. No decision has been made on whether to offer acreage in and around the Andaman Islands, which are believed to be an extension of some rich fields in nearby Myanmar, but Petrowatch learns that the DGH has in the last few weeks been granted permission to conduct seismic surveys of the area, long held to be rich in gas deposits, albeit under a hydrate zone.

A number of administrative details have to be ironed out in the oil ministry before the DGH can issue tender notices, but a decision is expected shortly. When it comes, the survey is expectedto focus on the eastern side of the north of the islands, which are held to be the most promising.

Inclusion of the Andaman Islands would be a surprise because until now it was felt there was not enough seismic data of the area to warrant inclusion and because India's defence ministry has in the past voiced objections because of the islands' perceived "strategic" location.