Eni on schedule in Rajasthan and Andaman Islands

Vol 12, PW 16 (15 Jan 09) Exploration & Production

Unlikely it might be, but if war were to break out between India and Pakistan, Eni’s 1335-sq km Rajasthan exploration block RJ-ONN-2003/1 would be in the direct line of fire.

In late December, the Italian major received all necessary official approval to allow it to drill its first exploration well by end-February at the block, where it is operator with 34%, alongside ONGC (36%) and Cairn India (30%). “The well location is only between 10 and 15-km from the border,â€‌ we hear.

“By the end of next month (February) we will spud the well.â€‌ Preparation of the drilling site and work to construct a base camp and approach road is on schedule to enable a 2000-hp rig from Ahmedabad-based John Energy to begin drilling the well to TD of 2700 metres or â€کBasement’, targeting pre-Cambrian formations in a campaign expected to last two months.

“The rocks are very old,â€‌ says a source, “and will throw up around 600m plus years of geological history.â€‌ Earlier worries of a delay in the award of land acquisition rights for a 10,000-sq ft patch of land because of local state elections on December 4 have subsided.

Shortly after the poll, which saw the election of Congress chief minister Ashok Gehlot, local officials cleared the paperwork to enable Eni to begin civil work. Also in December, the DGH approved Eni’s application for a six-month extension to its Phase-I work programme, which now ends in July.

Rajasthan is one of two areas in India where Eni operates. This month the company concludes a four-month survey to collect wind and current data at NELP-V deepwater block AN-DWN-2003/2 off the Andaman Islands.

Still unclear is the identity of the deepwater rig that will drill the first well later this year or early 2010, except that it will be one of the “four or fiveâ€‌ already under contract with Eni elsewhere in the world. “Eni tried very hard for a rig share arrangement with Reliance or ONGC,â€‌ adds a source.

“But no firm commitment came from either of the two companies.â€‌