Vol 3, PW 10 (09 Jun 99) Exploration & Production

Oil India, the countrys junior state-owned explorer, is planning an aggressive drilling programme on the bed of Assam's mighty Brahmaputra river.

A source at the company tells this report it will first undertake a 3D survey on the 83-km stretch of the Brahmaputra between Khagarijan in Dibrugarh district (near the Chabua military airport) on the southern bank and Simen Chapori in Lakhimpur district on the northern bank. OIL signed a contract with Frances Compagnie General de Geophysique (CGG) in 1993 to undertake a comprehensive survey in Upper Assam, a survey which included the Brahmaputra bed.

However, CGG abruptly abandoned Assam after threats by the outlawed terrorist organisation United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and demands to pay $5m in protection money. OIL has since acquired CGGs equipment and has trained its own own staff to conduct 3D surveys.

First indications of the Brahmaputra river bed suggest it is "very rich in hydrocarbons". The source tells this report the Brahmaputra river bed is an extension of OILs North Bank drilling project at Simen Chapori.

He said there is heavy pressure on OIL to increase crude output in Assam with the imminent commissioning of the Numaligarh refinery (see 23-NUMALIGARH: A CARROT FOR BANGLADESH). Total crude production in Assam has been declining over the years.

In 1998-99 fiscal year, it fell to 4.39m tonnes against 4.53m tonnes in the previous fiscal year. In the early 1990s, Assam regularly produced more than 5.5m tonnes of crude oil a year.

ONGC also produces crude from Assam.

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