Vol 3, PW 2 (17 Feb 99) Exploration & Production

So confident is ONGC at the prospectivity of the Cauvery basin in Tamil Nadu, that it has decided to open an office in the small town of Ramanathapuram, or Ramnad, located on the southern coast of India, off the Palk Strait, a small strip of water separating India from Sri Lanka.

Last year, ONGC made a series of encouraging oil and gas strikes in and around Ramanathapuram: at Perungulam; Periapatnam, Ramanavalasai, and most recently at a well near Mayiladuthurai, where ONGC struck gas and where a well is currently under testing. "It is a confirmed play", an ONGC source tells Petrowatch.

Another strike was at the Kali structure near Kutralam, where gas was discovered in 1996. ONGC reckons land east of Kutralam up to the sea and beyond is particularly promising.

ONGC explorers even suspect a hydrocarbon presence in the Gulf of Mannar, further south. In April this year, Frances Compagnie General de Geophysique (CGG) will begin a tele-seismic survey on a 1,100km stretch of the Palk Strait and Gulf of Mannar in previously unexplored areas.

The shoot will last three months and re-visit areas where land surveys were last carried out in 1988. A CGG crew is today undertaking work for ONGC in the Krishna Godavari basin, further north up the coast.

The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons is auctioning the following six concessions in the Cauvery Basin under the New Exploration Licensing Policy:- Block Name Area (sq km) Status CY-OSN-97/4 5,920 Shallow water CY-OSN-97/3 3,530 Shallow water CY-OSN-97/2 5,215 Shallow water CY-OSN-97/1 4,940 Shallow water CY-DWN-98/1 9,965 Deep water CY-PR-DWN-98/2 8,240 Deep water