Geopetrol ready to start work in Arunachal Pradesh

Vol 9, PW 18 (15 Dec 05) Exploration & Production

Geopetrol of France is gearing up to begin its exploration programme at NELP-V frontier block AA-ONN-2003/2 in Arunachal Pradesh, where it is operator with 30%.

We have very little time to begin the work programme, reveals a source. We have one month to do what normally takes four to six months.

Rains come early in Arunachal and theres only so much you can do before the monsoon. Geopetrol has a valid excuse for the delay: the PSC should have been signed on 23rd September with 18 others but disagreement with the DGH over the blocks classification as frontier territory pushed back the signing to this week.

Geopetrol now needs to apply for a Petroleum Exploration Licence from Arunachal authorities. Then it must carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment of the 295-sq km onshore block, located 20-km from the Myanmar border, in one of the remotest, wettest and densely forested parts of India near the Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh.

Geopetrol is also planning to issue a tender for a contractor to carry out the 200-km 2D and 100-sq km 3D Phase-I seismic commitment. Geopetrol is under no illusion about the difficulties ahead at AA-ONN-2003/2, and hasnt ruled out the use of choppers to ferry drilling equipment in and out of this inaccessible block.

This is extremely tough terrain, we hear. The whole block is criss-crossed with streams.

Work on the block will be hampered by almost constant rainfall registering an average 3000 millimetres per annum. Located 65-km by road from Digboi in Assam, some 90% of the block area is covered by dense forest with rolling hills ranging in height from between 500-ft and 5000-ft.

First drilling is scheduled for 2007 when results emerge from the seismic survey. This is rank exploration territory with just one 35-km metal road, we hear.

No wells have been drilled and theres no data except one 4-km crooked line from the DGH. Geopetrols Phase-I work programme commits it to drill three wells to a depth of 3000 metres; three to a depth of 2000 metres; and one to a depth of 4000 metres.