Vol 2, PW 22 (11 Nov 98) Exploration & Production

Shell India Production Development will begin drilling its first well in Rajasthan in the second half of December.

Derek Corbishley, in charge of Shells Rajasthan venture, tells a correspondent for this report: "Hopefully we should begin drilling in the second half of next month, though I cannot give a date. We have just finished construction of an access road to the site and the laying of a causeway across the Loni river.

The contract for getting rigs is just about to be signed. Everything else, including drilling pipes are on site," he said.

Corbishley declined to name the drilling contractor or the value of the contract, but added: "It is an Indian company." He said Indian engineering company Larsen &Toubro are still executing the civil works around the site. He said Shell had been surveying the area the past 3-4 years and had spent $14m and expected to spend another $8 to $10m on drilling.

"It is a very risky project. The chances of success are very, very slim but on the basis of geological and geophysical surveys we are going ahead with the drilling.

We are confident enough to risk a well in the area. We had no obligation to drill wells as our contract was only for survey."