Great Offshore protest at ONGC seismic tender

Vol 14, PW 21 (21 Apr 11) People & Policy

Great Offshore has lodged an official protest with the oil ministry over ONGC’s decision to cancel a 3D seismic vessel construction tender in which it emerged lowest bidder.

Great Offshore executive director PC Kapoor hand-delivered an angry letter to additional secretary Sudhir Bhargava on April 7 complaining about ONGC’s Executive Purchase Committee’s decision three days earlier to re-tender after Great Offshore came first when price bids were opened on March 11. “After evaluation our bid was the lowest,” writes Kapoor.

“But ONGC has decided to re-tender for the vessel.” Great Offshore and sister company Bharati Shipyard bid $186m for the contract to build a 12-streamer 3D seismic vessel to be designed by Rolls Royce; second was Dubai-based Drydocks World, which bid $192m for an eight-streamer vessel.

Great Offshore, Drydocks and Astillero Barreras of Spain were the only companies pre-qualified out of 14 that responded to the tender last October. But Astillero was rejected on technical grounds and its price bid not opened.

In his letter, Kapoor accuses ONGC of exploiting an irrelevant ‘technicality’ to deny Great Offshore the award. ONGC says the bids were ‘incomplete’.

Whatever the reason, this is the fourth time ONGC will re-tender for the construction of its own seismic vessel, casting doubts about its sincerity. Five years ago it awarded Russian company Amur Shipbuilding an $89.9m contract to build a six-streamer vessel, but the contract was cancelled two years later.

Then in May 2009, the Western Offshore Basin division of ONGC recommended a $123m bid by Singapore-based Nordic Maritime, only to have the recommendation over-turned by the EPC, which called for a third tender. And now again, on April 4, the EPC has scrapped the third tender and called for a fourth, resulting in Great Offshore’s protest.

“Each time ONGC calls a tender for this job,” says a source, “the price goes up.”