Using a jack-up to generate power but not oil and gas

Vol 12, PW 2 (12 Jun 08) Exploration & Production

In times of high oil prices, when rigs are scarce, and even those available command premium rates, you’d expect an explorer to squeeze the last drop of work from all its rigs.

Not so ONGC, it seems. Take Sagar Samrat, India’s first jack-up, built for ONGC in 1973 by Mitsubishi for $3.18m.

This self-propelled rig helped discover the giant Bombay High field in 1974 and, according to ONGC: “drilled 125 wells in 27 years – a feat unmatched by any other rig in the world.â€‌ So what is this robust rig doing now She’s still at Mumbai High, not drilling for oil and gas, as you would expect, but generating electricity for the NF platform! Sagar Samrat was assigned this task soon after an accidental fire destroyed the MHN process platform on July 27, 2005.

Until then the MHN platform had been supplying power to NF. Sometime before this accident, Sagar Samrat had been pulled out of active service and refurbished before being re-deployed for further drilling assignments.

But as it turned out, the devastating MHN fire also robbed Sagar Samrat of more opportunities to cover itself with glory by finding oil and gas. ONGC only recently seems to have realised the folly of having a rig of this calibre idling away – while simultaneously hiring jack-ups from the market at a minimum of $160,000/day.

It is now planning to generate power on the MNW platform and supply it to NF about 70 metres away. “Power supply cables will be laid on top of a â€کV’ shaped bridge to be built connecting the two,â€‌ says a source.

“Larsen & Toubro has been awarded this contract and the kick off meeting was held in Mumbai early May.â€‌ Costing about $30m, this project should be completed by the end of the year, after which Sagar Samrat will be released.

Contacted by this report, ONGC chairman RS Sharma confirmed that Sagar Samrat, though modified to a â€کmobile offshore drilling unit’ was not yet drilling. “She was taken out of active service and converted,â€‌ said Sharma.