Good response to Niko tender for Cauvery onland rig

Vol 11, PW 24 (17 Apr 08) Exploration & Production

Twenty-six rigs! That’s right: 26 bidders are in the race for Canadian explorer Niko Resources’ tender to hire one onland rig to drill three wells at Cauvery Basin block CY-ONN-2003/1.

“Anyone with a rig or even with a hope of getting a rig seems to have put in a bid,â€‌ says a Niko source. Niko issued the tender in late March and set a two-week deadline.

“We knew it was a short deadline and were expecting requests for extensions.â€‌ Sure enough, the requests came in thick and fast and Niko extended the deadline to end-April.

We hear that some of the bids “look like complete long shotsâ€‌, while others are from serious foreign bidders like Weatherford, Century Drilling and IRD, as well as major Indian onland drillers. By end-April, Niko expects to have about “five to eight good bids left in the raceâ€‌.

Niko is looking for a 2000-hp rig to drill wells of between 3000 and 4500 metres deep. These “will be in the lower partâ€‌ of the 957-sq km block, where Niko drilled two dry holes (Agraharam-01 and Gahpavanam-01) last year, out of the five wells committed in Phase-I.

“This (lower portion) is a fairly wet area of the block,â€‌ we hear. “One of the locations is actually in the middle of a lagoon.

â€‌ Niko plans either to build a road as close as possible to the location, or ask its geologists to come up with a more convenient site. The spud date for the first of the three remaining wells has been set for February 15, 2009.

“This fits in with the onset of the monsoon rains, before which we want the rig in position,â€‌ we learn. Given the deeper formations to be targeted in these three wells, Niko expects each to take about 50 days to drill.

The company is presently in Phase-I of the exploration period. This ends in July 2009 and will “probably need an extension for the third well.

â€‌ If everything goes to plan, Niko expects to finish drilling by September next year.