Gazprom of Russia set to drill its first well in India

Vol 9, PW 20 (26 Jan 06) Exploration & Production

Gazprom of Russia is set to drill its first well in India at offshore block NEC-OSN-97/1 in the Mahanadi basin offshore West Bengal.

PETROWATCH learns that Sea Tankers - rig managers for the Ekha jack up - is busy positioning the rig at the well location, which is believed to be 150 miles nautical from Haldia. A source tells us Gazprom is awaiting the green light from Sea Tankers before spudding the well, expected any day.

We are keeping our fingers crossed, he says. Coconuts are being kept ready to bless the rig.

Gazprom has set a target depth of 2400 metres for the first well, which it hopes to reach in 20-22 days. We will then collect samples and begin testing immediately.

Schlumberger has the logging contract. Ekha will then drill a second well to a target depth of 4000m.

Gazprom holds 50% of this 10,425-sq km NELP-1 block with GAIL, which also holds 50%. Within the consortium, hopes are alive of a gas discovery similar to that announced by Reliance at nearby block NEC-OSN-97/2.

Reservoir consultants Gaffney, Cline & Associates have independently certified 2.3-tcf reserves at Reliance block NEC-OSN-97/2. Its expected the two-well drilling programme at the Gazprom block will last 50 days.

We would like to retain the rig for longer to drill wells at other locations, we hear. Earlier doubts about the availability of Ekha, a 300-feet independent leg cantilever jack-up have been dispelled.

Consortium sources tell us they are paying $100,000 per day for the rig, considerably more than expected, but reasonable given todays tight climate. Built in Singapore in 1984, Ekha can drill in water depths of up to 92.5 metres and up to 6500 metres below the seabed.

Gazprom and GAIL signed a PSC for NEC-OSN-97/1 on 12th April 2000. Phase-II of the exploration phase ended in November last year and the consortium awaits formal DGH approval for a six-month extension.

We have not received anything in writing, we learn. But we hear it is being favourably considered.

Gazprom had earlier received a three-month extension to Phase-I.