Aban favourite to win ONGC tender for two â€کfloaters'

Vol 11, PW 13 (01 Nov 07) Exploration & Production

ONGC has extended by two weeks to (Monday) November 5 the deadline for bids in a tender to hire two â€کfloaters’ for its offshore drilling programme.

“There’s no choice for ONGC but to extend the date,â€‌ says a driller of the earlier October 23 deadline. “Not many of these rigs are available by ONGC’s mobilisation deadline next year.

â€‌ By September 2008, ONGC wants to mobilise one â€کfloater’ that can drill in water depths of 600-ft and another that can drill in depths of 1000-ft. On offer are three-year contracts for each.

Aban Loyd is offering drillship Frontier Ice and semi submersible Bulford Dolphin; Jet Drilling is offering semi submersible Energy Driller; Mercator Offshore is unlikely to participate as it has not yet signed up a rig; Transocean is likely to offer semi-submersibles Sedco 711, Sedco 712, GSF Arctic-3 and John Shaw; Great Offshore is offering Atlantic Venture; Neptune Drilling is offering Neptune Challenger, and Jindal Drilling is offering semi-submersible Doosung. As is by now customary in tenders of this nature, expect a wide divergence in price expectations between ONGC and competing contractors.

Drillers are looking for an effective day rate of between $250,000 and $300,000 but ONGC appears unwilling to pay more than $175,000/day for each rig. “For once,â€‌ says a source, “it looks like ONGC is right on the mark.

Most of the rigs on offer are old and there’s no reason why ONGC should offer very high rates.â€‌ Some drillers justify high rates by saying rigs that can drill in 1000-ft (300 metres) of water are more expensive to maintain than rigs that can drill only in 600-ft (180 metres) of water.

Aban-owned Frontier Ice – already drilling for ONGC - was built in 1957 and can drill in 1000-ft water depths. Bulford Dolphin – drilling offshore Ghana and also Aban-owned – was built in 1977 and can drill in 1250-ft (380 metres) water depths.

Aban takes delivery of Bulford Dolphin this month and is widely viewed as a favourite to clinch the contract for both rigs.