ONGC readies to wade in deep waters alone

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Summary* To invite global consultants to bid for KG field development plan

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) will go solo in developing its most promising deep-water hydrocarbon block in the Krishna-Godavari (KG) Basin with help of consultants as potential international partners like Shell and ConocoPhillips have shied away from taking stakes or providing technological expertise.

Harnessing potential resources in deep-water blocks is crucial to the state-run explorer’s plan to augment oil and gas output which has stagnated — if not declined — in recent years, despite a reasonable accretion to reserves.

Sources say ONGC will invite international consultants in the sector such as Aker Solutions, Technip, Pegasus and Worley Parsons soon to place bids for preparing the field development plan (FDP) for its KG-DWN-98/2 block. “ONGC has little experience in developing offshore deep-water blocks and will therefore issue tenders inviting global consultants to help us prepare the FDP for the block,” said an official directly involved in the matter.

Though the company has been trying to woo the likes of Shell and ConocoPhillips for joint development of the block for around a year now, they have so far remained non-committal.

ONGC’s KG blocks had received interest from international players in the past but delays on the part of the government in approving the proposals stymied their entry. Though the farm-out agreements for giving 15% to Brazil’s Petrobras and 10% to Norway’s Statoil were signed in 2007, a joint operating agreement could not be inked.

ONGC’s KG basin blocks holds about 4.85 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves (22 million metric standard cubic metres per day of gas at peak production) and indicated oil reserves of around 100 million tonnes. They will be the company’s first significant producing block in the technologically challenging deep-water zone when it comes on stream in 2017-18.

FDPs comprise of activities and processes that are required to develop a field. As ONGC does not have expertise in developing deep-water fields, it requires assistance in understanding various aspects of production from these zones including environmental impact, geophysics, geology, reservoir and production engineering, infrastructure, well design and construction, completion design, surface facilities, and economics and risk assessment.

ONGC officials say that the company plans to complete preparing the FDP by March 2015 and hopefully start production about two years later. ONGC is currently running the appraisal programme for the wells and expects to submit the declaration of commerciality to the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons in December.

ONGC officials say that they

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