IOC and Oil India talk to Sonatrach for Libyan round

Vol 11, PW 15 (15 Nov 07) Exploration & Production

Oil India and Indian Oil are in a race against time to find a partner qualified to bid as â€کoperator’ in the ongoing fourth Libyan licensing round.

Unless they sign an agreement this month, they will miss the November 30 deadline for bids and face exclusion from the round. In September this year, Libyan authorities announced that IOC and Oil India had qualified only as â€کinvestors’ but not as â€کoperators’ as they would have liked.

Only as â€کoperator’ is a company permitted to bid in the Libyan round. Luckily, help might be at hand.

PETROWATCH learns that for the past one month, IOC and Oil India have been talking to Sonatrach, the state-owned Algerian national oil company, with a view to bidding jointly. Sonatrach has been qualified as â€کoperator’ by Libyan authorities.

Formal discussions are underway and an agreement with the Algerian NOC is believed imminent, to the relief of both IOC and Oil India. For both companies Libya is a priority exploration destination.

Two years ago IOC and Oil India won exploration rights to blocks 86 and 102/4, with each company holding 50% stake in each. Oil India is operator for both blocks and last month despatched a drilling team to Libya to prepare the ground for a three-well drilling commitment: two exploration wells at block 86 and one at block 102/4.

“Oil India’s target is to drill these wells by December 2008,â€‌ we hear. “But it is trying to do it earlier.

â€‌ No date has been fixed to tender for a drilling contractor. “Since the consortium is planning to drill wells in December,â€‌ says a source, “the process of selecting a drilling contractor should start by January or February next year.

â€‌ Acquisition of the 3000-lkm 2D work commitment by Polish contractor Geofizyka Krakow across both blocks is nearing completion, with just 350-lkm left to shoot at block 86. Moves are also afoot to hire a 3D seismic contractor.

“Once 2D is over and all the 2D data is interpretedâ€‌, adds a source, “Oil India will decide how much 3D is to be acquired.â€‌