Premier issues EoI to seismic contractors for Ratna

Vol 11, PW 10 (20 Sep 07) Exploration & Production

Ratna joint venture partners are still waiting to sign a PSC but that isn’t stopping operator Premier Oil preparing to begin work on the dormant oilfield.

Seismic contractors report Premier issued an invitation to submit Expressions of Interest for a 1622-sq km blanket 3D survey of the discovered Ratna and R Series field offshore Mumbai in early August. Premier, it seems, is primarily interested in a six-streamer boat, already located in Indian waters, which can complete the survey between March and May next year, assuming it signs the PSC by then.

“Premier wants to be fully prepared when the PSC is signed,â€‌ we hear. “Right now it is only contemplating what needs to be done before.

No formal seismic tender will be issued until the joint venture signs a PSC with the government.â€‌ Only one person can decide when that happens: oil minister Murli Deora.

PETROWATCH learns the Ratna â€کfile’ is again on his desk, following its long journey back from the finance ministry, where mandarins agreed with joint venture partners ONGC (40%), Essar (50%) and Premier (10%) that royalty and cess (tax) should be paid at the rates prevailing in 1996, when the field was awarded, and not today’s rates. Mandarins in the oil ministry are equally confident that the last hurdle has been crossed.

In the first week of this month (September) oil secretary MS Srinivasan informally told JV partners that the oil ministry would raise no more queries or objections. “MS Srinivasan said he had given a clear and concise recommendation to Murli Deora that it should go through and that the PSC should be signed,â€‌ we hear.

“Srinivasan said the ministry of finance had â€کconcurred’ with the JV position.â€‌ So far, so good! But if indecisive Deora asks cabinet to decide on the matter, as he did with the D6 gas price, it’s unlikely the PSC will be signed next month, as some predict.