Drillers furious at Christmas tender from ONGC

Vol 13, PW 14 (17 Dec 09) Exploration & Production

ONGC has re-launched its hunt for a semi-submersible or drillship that can drill in 600-metre water depths for three years.

This tender was first issued 11 months ago with a rig mobilisation deadline of December 2009. But ONGC scrapped the tender in July this year, blaming the technical unsuitability of the two rigs offered: Essar Wildcat and GSF Arctic-III.

This current tender is identical to the last, except that ONGC now wants the rig mobilised by December next year (2010). Anyone interested has until December 24 to buy tender documents.

December 29 is the last date for queries before a pre-bid meeting scheduled for December 30. But there’s a catch! Contractors are furious with ONGC for issuing this tender during the Christmas holidays.

“This is not a good time,â€‌ said one source. “Everybody is on leave at this time of year.

â€‌ Another source was even angrier. “This is a scam,â€‌ he said.

“Why has ONGC chosen a period when it knows most drillers will be on vacation Does ONGC already have a particular contractor in mind Are all the submission details in place with this contractor Will ONGC favour this contractorâ€‌ ONGC wants a rig with three 1600-hp mud pumps and a 15,000-psi Blow out Preventer (BOP), which can work in high pressure/high temperature environments. The winner must also supply a cementing unit and a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV).

Another drilling contractor adds there are not many rigs around with these specifications, “so the rates will be high.â€‌ ONGC is likely to ask for bids by end-February, 2010, we learn, but the actual deadline will be firmed up only after the pre-bid meeting.

Sources expect the contract to be signed by end-May, 2010. ONGC is believed to want the rig not only for Indian waters, but also at overseas acreage with ONGC Videsh.