Cairn drills first exploration well in land of Buddha

Vol 12, PW 17 (29 Jan 09) Exploration & Production

Densely populated Bihar in India is famous for all the wrong reasons: corruption, lawlessness and grinding poverty.

Yet none of these have prevented Cairn India exceeding most of its minimum work programme commitment at onland block GV-ONN-2002/1, where it is about to complete the first exploration well drilled in the state, which includes the Ganges River plain to the south, and a border with Nepal to the north. PETROWATCH learns Cairn spud well Havidhi-1 on December 10 last year using a 1000-hp custom built rig owned and operated by Weatherford Drilling.

TD for the well is 2500 metres, targeting the Karanpura and Talehir geological formations. “No one has drilled a well in Bihar before,â€‌ says an industry source.

“ONGC did some seismic but never drilled a well.â€‌ Bihar is also home to the holy city of Bodh Gaya, where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment by sitting under a bodhi tree near the banks of the Falgu River and meditating for seven weeks.

Cairn has been busier than the Buddha, reprocessing 50% more seismic than required and analysing more than 11 times the number of geo-chemical samples than committed, as well as carrying out a voluntary blanket aero magnetic survey of the 15,550-sq km block. But the path Cairn has taken to understand Bihar’s oil and gas potential is not easy.

“The drill bit keeps getting stuck every 50 metres,â€‌ says a source. Cairn hopes to reach TD in the next three weeks before moving the rig to Rajasthan, where it will join a second Weatherford rig to drill around 300 development wells over the next three years.

Cairn has committed two more wells at the Bihar block under Phase II and III. One source suggests Cairn is doing a thorough job at Phase I for good reason.

“No one spends millions of dollars just to meet work commitment,â€‌ he says. “Cairn must see something promising.