Nagaland exploration resumes with Canoro 2D survey

Vol 10, PW 20 (08 Feb 07) Exploration & Production

Nagaland in India’s troubled northeast is about to see the start of first oil exploration activity since 1994, when ONGC was unceremoniously expelled by restless militants.

Later this month Canadian explorer Canoro Resources will begin shooting a 150-km 2D survey at its 1445-sq km AA-ON/7 exploration block, most of which lies in Assam, but part of which falls in tiny Nagaland on the border with Myanmar. Some 500 personnel have already begun preparatory work, surveying land, and laying lines for the Israeli-supported drilling crews that will begin the 2D work later this month.

“We hope to finish the survey by mid-April before the rains,â€‌ says Canoro. “Since ONGC left there has been no oil and gas exploration work in Nagaland.

â€‌ Around 50-km of the 2D survey will be carried out in Nagaland. Though small, its significance is huge.

Twelve years ago ONGC had seven rigs operating in Nagaland before terrorism coupled with death threats forced it out, never to return. Before leaving ONGC had drilled around 30 wells in the Champang area of the Wokha district in the prospective Dhansiri basin.

Nine showed oil and gas. Last September Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio offered to sign a MoU with ONGC allowing it to resume work at Champang, but little has been heard since.

Canoro, by contrast, is quietly consolidating its position as operator of choice for the state government. Last year on 8th August Naga authorities issued a PEL for AA-ON/7, signalling their willingness to allow Canoro to begin exploration.

Then in December Canoro moved one step ahead of ONGC by signing a Joint Cooperation Agreement with state authorities to promote exploration in the state, which it compares to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. With a population of just two million, Nagaland is one of India’s smallest states.

Primarily a gas-prone block, AA-ON/7 has a seven-year exploration period, which ends on 26th March 2008. Canoro has identified five prospects on the block and is planning three exploration wells in the Assam portion of the block.

An earlier well in October 2005 at South Jorhat was dry.