Seismic centre helps HPCL operator ambition

Vol 14, PW 1 (01 Jul 10) Exploration & Production

Hindustan Petroleum is setting up an in-house seismic data centre at its Delhi office to help realise its dream of becoming an upstream operator in time for the next licensing round.

PETROWATCH learns India’s second largest state-owned petrol and diesel retailer has already bought processing and data interpretation software from Schlumberger for the data centre. “Schlumberger’s role will be limited to training our staff,” explains an HPCL source.

“We expect our seismic data processing and interpretation centre to be operational two months from now when the ongoing renovation and refurbishment of our (Delhi) office is complete.” Unlike peers IndianOil and Bharat Petroleum, HPCL is the only state-owned refiner that does not operate an exploration block, even though it has stakes in 23 – 19 blocks in India and four abroad.

HPCL believes setting up this seismic data centre at an estimated cost of Rs5cr ($1.1m) is one step towards that goal. “At our (seismic) centre we will re-verify the data processed and interpreted by the operators in blocks where we have stakes,” says our company source.

“This will give our team experience and confidence as we build our expertise in geological and geophysical analysis.” HPCL first ventured into the upstream sector in 2007 by setting up a specific E&P business unit with a staff of five.

“Today, our E&P unit has grown to 30,” he says. “This is a strong foundation for our growth in E&P.

” But he adds HPCL, which is known for being one of the more progressive state-owned companies in India, will only become an operator if it can realistically stick to the work commitments it makes. “Yes, we do want to become an operator,” he says, “but only at a reasonable price.

We aren’t desperate like some who will bid unreasonable work programmes.” HPCL is still smarting from its failed bid to become an operator in NELP-VIII.