Vol 3, PW 6 (14 Apr 99) Exploration & Production

If Unocal once entertained ideas of forming a joint venture with ONGC in Tripura, it will be sadly disappointed.

This report learns ONGC is deeply unhappy with the preliminary findings of a joint study undertaken by Unocal and ONGCs Keshava Deva Malviya Institute of Petroleum Exploration (KDMIPE) at Dehra Dun. The aim: to re-examine existing ONGC seismic data of Tripura, the tiny gas-prone state on Indias border with Bangladesh.

It is widely assumed Unocal agreed to undertake the joint study for free, in the hope it would lead to a possible farm-in to ONGC acreage in the area. That hope has now been rudely dashed.

"If they had come up with something we didnt know already then we may have considered a joint venture but at present there are no such plans", an ONGC source tells this report. Unocal, it seems, has yet to submit its final report, but ONGC has made up its mind on the basis of preliminary findings.

In opening up the entire range of Tripura data to Unocal, ONGC was hoping for some extra leads. "We were hoping they would bring out much deeper level prospectivity by re-processing our available data but they have come up with nothing which gives us a new lead or new thought process".

It now seems highly unlikely that ONGC will reciprocate Unocals gesture by granting it a farm-in. In customary, ONGC style it plans to keep the acreage for itself.

It is not difficult to see why.

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