KG drilling delay

Vol 14, PW 26 (30 Jun 11) News in Brief

ONGC has been forced to halt a 24-well exploration programme at onland KG blocks PEL-1A and PEL-1B because of environment ministry objections.

ONGC wrote to the oil ministry this month (June) saying it shouldn’t have to carry out a ‘public hearing’ with local villagers, as demanded by the environment ministry in a letter on May 24. ONGC’s argument, we hear, is that three years ago it conducted a ‘public hearing’ for a 5300-sq km area of the West Godavari district for NELP-III block PG-ONN-2001/1, which it believes should include PEL-1A and PEL-1B.

But the environment ministry is unwilling to exempt ONGC. “They say a ‘public hearing’ is a must before they give environment clearance,” adds ONGC.

Without a ‘public hearing’ the environment ministry is within its rights to deny ONGC drilling permission. ONGC has so far drilled 36 exploration wells at PEL-1A and PEL-1B and has until January 2012 to drill another 24 at both licences before the seven-year PEL expires.