Ajay Kalsi buys jack-up for Cambay wells

Vol 14, PW 19 (24 Mar 11) Exploration & Production

Not often do you hear of an upstream minnow buying a rig for work at a single block, but that’s exactly how Focus Energy owner Ajay Kalsi seems to operate.

PETROWATCH learns Focus has bought jack-up Transocean Mercury from Transocean for its ambitious drilling commitment at 2616-sq km shallow water Cambay Basin block CB-OSN-2004/1. This rig was earlier ‘cold-stacked’ in Egypt, according to an industry source, but has “recently” been ‘wet-towed’ to the Kochi Shipyard in Kerala where “experts” hired by Focus are working to refurbish and upgrade her.

Mercury is a ‘Sonat Mercury Class’ design ‘independent leg cantilever’ rig which can work in water depths of 250-feet and drill to a depth of 20,000 feet below the seabed. She was built in 1969 by Scotland’s Upper Clyde Shipbuilders.

Our source speculates that Focus couldn’t possibly have spent more than $20m to buy the rig but must spend at least another $3m to refurbish and upgrade her, particularly her electrical systems. “Focus will find it difficult to get other contracts for Mercury after the Cambay drilling programme,” he says.

“She has an outdated design and her ‘effective water depth capability’ is between 175-feet and 200-feet so she can be deployed only in shallow waters and where operators aren’t concerned about the ‘footprint’.” Mercury has worked before in the Cambay basin, recalls another source, “many years ago for ONGC under Sonat Offshore.

” This time when she returns to Cambay, Focus needs Mercury to drill a staggering 18 exploration wells committed in the four-year Phase-I at CB-OSN-2004/1, which it operates with 100%. Bizarrely, Focus has also constructed its own seismic survey vessel to shoot the 2300-lkm of 2D and 2616-sq km of 3D committed in Phase-I.

Focus apparently invited bids from contractors for seismic work but found rates too high and went ahead and built its own vessel!