BP begins work at Birbhum CBM block in West Bengal

Vol 11, PW 16 (13 Dec 07) Exploration & Production

BP has wasted no time after its PEL award on November 29 for the Birbhum CBM block in West Bengal.

On the next day a BP team met officials in the federal environment ministry in Delhi to secure approval for the scope of work outlined in the obligatory Environment Impact Assessment study, to be carried out by the Delhi office of Environment Resource Management. Next on the agenda, says Jonathan Evans, BP’s exploration director for South Asia, is to obtain formal DGH approval for the work programme and budget.

Says Evans: “For this a Management Committee meeting will be held, most likely in early January.â€‌ BP’s PEL marks the beginning of a two-year Phase-I exploration period in which BP is committed to drilling eight coreholes and five test wells.

“Two of these coreholes will be drilled to basement,â€‌ adds Evans. “Each of the remaining six must be drilled to about 1000 metres.

â€‌ Valuable data such as thickness of the coal seams and gas content should emerge from the initial drilling of coreholes. Evans adds that BP had already short-listed drilling contractors in the middle of last year, anticipating the PEL award.

“A tender will be sent to these short-listed contractors after MC approval,â€‌ he says. No seismic survey has been committed in Phase-I but BP must shoot an aerial gravity magnetic survey over the entire 248-sq km block.

“The locations of the test wells will depend on the results of the coreholes,â€‌ says Evans. BP must also carry out analysis of geological samples.

BP estimates Phase-I will cost about $40m. At the end of Phase-I, BP has the option to either begin the two-and-a-half year Phase-II work programme or relinquish the block.

If it enters Phase-II, Evans says BP will drill 15 test wells costing a total $60m. “These wells will be drilled in three clusters of five each,â€‌ he said.

“Some of the Phase-I test wells could be re-used in Phase-II.â€‌