Anger as ONGC accused of Transocean bias

Vol 14, PW 18 (10 Mar 11) Exploration & Production

Expect loud protests at the ONGC pre-bid in Mumbai tomorrow (March 11) in a tender for three-year contracts to hire floaters that can drill in water depths of 1000-feet.

PETROWATCH learns contractors are enraged at ONGC for making critical last-minute changes, effectively limiting competition. Some are even accusing it of favouring Transocean with its move to invite bids only from rigs under-construction or on-contract.

ONGC sprung this unpleasant surprise on March 4, while also deleting an earlier tender condition excluding bids from floaters idle for over three years and changing its earlier demand for two 1000-feet floaters to three floaters. Nobody has a problem with the demand for an additional floater.

“What is surprising is that ONGC wants to limit competition,” says an angry driller. “Rigs which have just come off their contracts and are ready for a fresh assignment have been ruled out.

I think ONGC is favouring a company whose floaters will come off other contracts during mobilisation for this contract.” ONGC’s last-minute changes mean the following floaters can forget bidding – Songa Offshore’s Songa Mercur, Pride International’s Pride South Seas, Dolphin Drilling’s Borgsten Dolphin, Jasper Offshore’s Neptune Finder and Noble Drilling’s Noble Duchess.

Companies who will benefit from the new condition include Northern Offshore, Transocean and Diamond Offshore. Northern Offshore’s Energy Driller is working for ONGC on a contract ending in July after which it could be re-hired.

Transocean has eight floaters which would remain eligible: GSF Adriatic-III, GSF Rig 140, JW McLean, Sedco 704, Sedco 711, Sedco 714, Transocean John Shaw and Transocean Prospect. Diamond Offshore could theoretically offer Diamond Princess, Diamond Patriot, Ocean Nomad, Ocean Guardian, Ocean General or Ocean Epoch.

But since Diamond traditionally stays away from ONGC tenders, fingers point suspiciously at Transocean.

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