To address one of the key concerns of investors about lack of robust data on India’s hydrocarbon fields, the government has embarked on an exhaustive seismic survey across 26 sedimentary basins with presumed presence of of petroleum.
Unveiling the survey at the Mahanadi Basin in Balasore in Odisha on Wednesday, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the R5,000-crore National Seismic Programme (NSP) was aimed at acquisition, processing and interpretation (API) of 48,243 line kilo metres of 2D seismic data in non-appraised on-land areas of the 26 sedimentary basins. “In the last 25 years, there has been a deadlock in India to carry out seismic surveys. We are now starting (the NSP),” the minister told FE.
The move comes amid reports that 46 small and marginal fields that have gone under the hammer recently have attracted less-than-anticipated bidding interest despite the offer of market-determined pricing and the freedom to drill hydrocarbon of any form — oil, natural gas or shale gas — under a single licence and sell it to the consumer of the producer’s choice.
ONGC would carry out API of 40,835 line kilometres of 2D seismic data in 24 on-land areas, situated in 18 states and union territories. Another 7,804 line kilometres of 2D data in the northeastern states would be carried out by Oil India.
The NSP is in addition to reappraisal of existing data of the sedimentary basins already taken up by a multi-agency team headed by Keshav Dev Majviy Institute Of Petroleum Exploration, a body attached to ONGC. The idea is to generate high-quality geoscientific data in a speedy manner with government ownership of data. “We would also put the existing data into new format, which would boost exploration activity,” Pradhan said.
The availability of substantive and quality geological data is vital for the success of exploration activity in the country. Industry watchers have blamed non-availability of data as one of the reasons for global explorers shying away from participating in the auction of oil and gas blocks under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) regime. The improved Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP), the first round of bidding under which is likely early next year, would offer a revenue-sharing model as opposed to the cost-recovery mechanism under NELP that had given rise to many controversies and discords. HELP also allows explorers to sell gas from difficult fields at market price with a ceiling.
The Modi government is also putting in place an all-new open acreage licensing policy (OALP). This would make available all potential hydrocarbon areas available to the investors and the seismic data being generated would be an added attraction to investors.
The petroleum ministry is of the view that acquiring geological data would enable in understanding the geology, hydrocarbon prospectivity and carving out of new exploration blocks. This has become important when production of oil and gas from domestic fields is rather stagnant.