Pratim Ranjan Bose

Kolkata, Aug 9 ONGC is hoping to complete hiring of 17 onland drilling rigs within this calendar year. This is the first time an Indian E&P major will be hiring onshore rigs. While contracts for four rigs are expected to be awarded in next four weeks, award of the rest are expected to be through latest by December.

ONGC faced severe crisis for drilling rigs after a failed attempt to purchase 25 onshore rigs from UPET of Romania, last year.

“Arrival of hired rigs will be a big help in onshore oil hunt, especially in the Assam Arakan basin,” a company official said.

Floats 4 contracts

The company has already floated four contracts for hiring 16 rigs and associated drilling services. The rigs will include four mobile, six Type-II rigs, five rigs of Type-III and one Type-IV. Of the same, two contracts were already closed and bids were sold in other two contracts. Mobile rigs are eligible to drill at shallow depths and attracts the lowest hiring charges. Similarly, Type-IV rigs are the costliest because of their eligibility to drill very deep objects and will be deployed in Sibsagar region in Assam. According to the latest industry standards, type-IV rigs cost approximately $40,000 a day. To mark the beginning of the awarding of contracts, ONGC has recently hired one mobile rig from Ahmedabad-based John Energy at the rate of $14,000 (Rs 5.6 lakh) a day.

“Award for three more rigs (one type-II and two type-III) will be over in next four weeks. The rest will be taken up accordingly. We are aiming at closing all the deals latest by December,” an ONGC official said, adding that a new contract for hiring one more rig may be floated shortly.

Participating cos

The companies which have already participated in the four contracts are: John Energy, Shiv-Vani, Weatherford International, Varun Industries, M B Petroleum and others.

ONGC has reported close to 9 million tonne of reserve accretion in onshore fields during the last fiscal. During the current fiscal, the company has struck significant discoveries at Disangmukh and Panidhing in Assam.

Incidentally, ONGC started its oil hunt with a dry well at Disangmukh in 1959. “We have recently struck oil at Disangmukh. We have so far drilled one well producing at the rate of 1,500 barrels a day, one of the highest production rates in the country so far. We will drill three four more wells here once the rigs are available,” the official said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 10, 2007)
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