ONGC to begin Bengal drilling in August

Monday, 21 July 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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KOLKATA: India's oil and gas exploration major ONGC will begin its search for reserves along West Bengal's coast and in the Sundarbans next month.

The state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has so far drilled at 48 sites across West Bengal, but is yet to hit commercially viable reserves. The last time ONGC had unsuccessfully drilled for oil in the state was seven years ago.

It will begin on-shore and offshore explorations in the Sunderbans, the world's largest delta, and the Moogberia and Contai areas by the Bay of Bengal.

"Spudding along the Bay of Bengal begins next month. Exploration in the Sunderbans are also likely to start around the same time," an ONGC site official told IANS. The total cost of the exercise is estimated at 4 billion.

ONGC has identified 1,100 sq. km of area in the Sunderbans for exploration. It hopes to finish spudding in two years.

The agency has started moving its heavy equipment and drilling machinery into Moogberia and completed building a bridge in the area to facilitate movement of its men and materials.

While states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tripura have been identified as 'asset zones' and some other areas as 'support service zones,' ONGC identifies West Bengal as a 'basin zone.'

ONGC stopped seismic surveys, to determine the presence of oil or gas, in the Bengal Basin project in 2000, indicating its plans to wind up operations in the state. But new findings have forced ONGC to rescind its decision.

Bengal on-shore is the second block being explored by ONGC after the experiments in the Bengal Basin showed virtually no financially viable oil reserves. ONGC had declared a three-year "drilling holiday" for the Bengal Basin project and called off further seismic surveys.

Now simultaneous with search for methane gas in the coal-rich Raniganj-Jharia belt in a block it holds jointly with Coal India Ltd, ONGC is venturing back into exploration of oil and gas in the state.

Source: IANS
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