Norwegian companies for tie-up in Indian oil exploration

Tuesday, 25 March 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Several Norwegian oil companies are looking for technical collaboration with India in deepwater exploration for stepping up their hydrocarbon production.

"India has done the right thing by going into deepwater exploration. Around the world countries are finding good reserves in deep sea lately," Ellinor Melbye, project director of Norway's International Programme for Petroleum Management and Administration (PETRAD), said Tuesday.

PETRAD is collaborating with the Directorate General of Hydrocarbon (DGH), India's state-owned body in charge of exploration policy and supervision. It acts as a facilitator for technology transfer programmes.

A three-day seminar is being held here on "Development of Deepwater Discoveries" with technical experts from Norway participating.

"Given the encouraging discoveries in the deepwater off the Indian coast, four major companies from Norway are here to explore possibilities of technical collaboration," Melbye told IANS.

They are Aker Geo Petroleum Services, Aker Marine Contractors, Atlantis Deepwater Technology Holding AS and ClampOn. All of them have experience in deep-sea drilling and production both in Norway and in other countries like Vietnam.

Norway is the second largest exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia.

For the first time, in the last few years India has ventured into the deep-sea into depths of over 850 metres and below.

As India looks to explore deep-sea blocks including sedimentary basins beyond Mumbai High, the largest producing block in the country, DGH is keen to tap foreign expertise for most cost-effective and optimal production from discoveries by Reliance and Britain's Cairn Energy off the east coast in the Krishna-Godavari basin.

The seven discoveries made in the Krishna-Godavari basin are estimated to have reserves of around 10 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Making a presentation to the delegates DGH Director General Avinash Chandra said some blocks in the deep-sea off west and east coast will be included among the exploration blocks, which will be offered for international bidding next month.

"As we look beyond 1,000 metres depth at large geo-bodies, we are debating the best way forward for optimised production from deep-sea discoveries," said Chandra.

Of the 70 blocks offered under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) in the last three rounds, 24 have been deep-sea blocks, covering an area of 350,000 square kilometres.

"The estimated investment in these blocks will be around $1.7 billion as the programme envisaged. The next round of NELP to be launched next month will also include some very prospective deepwater blocks," Petroleum Minister Ram Naik told the seminar.

Of the blocks awarded under NELP rounds, about 50 leads have been identified as potential gas and oil discoveries in the southern coast of the country near Kanyakumari or Cape Comorin.

The drilling of wells in these deep-sea blocks is yet to start, said Chandra.

Some other major discoveries are expected in the Krishna-Godavari and the Mahanadi basins where several leads have been identified.

The DGH estimates India will be able to double its gas production in the next five years from current level of 81 million metric standard cubic metres per day (MMSCMD), with Reliance's one block in the Krishna Godavari basin alone adding around 40 MMSCMD in the next two years.

Depending on imports for 70 percent of its requirement, India is also hopeful of enhancing its oil production from around 32 million tonnes annually with some promising finds.

Source: IANS
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