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ONGC to resume drilling in West Bengal

Monday, 16 September 2002, 07:00 Hrs
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KOLKATA: The state-owned explorer, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), has identified two locations along West Bengal's coastline where it will begin drilling by March to find new reserves.

The latest attempt will follow a string of failure to tap oil from 48 drilling sites in the eastern state, ONGC Chairman Subir Saha said here.

"After our 40 years of exploration in West Bengal, we are hopeful of finding oil along the coastal stretch," Raha told reporters.

ONGC will start with onshore and offshore explorations in Contai area in Midnapore district by the Bay of Bengal.

Exploration in the Sunderbans, the world's largest mangrove forests, would however start earlier in December, Raha said.

ONGC will prospect for methane gas in the coal-rich Raniganj-Jharia belt. It has contracted to supply methane gas to Coal India.

The total cost of the exercise is estimated at 4 billion.

In the Sunderbans, ONGC has identified 1,100 sq. km. for exploration and hopes to finish drilling in two years, the ONGC chairman said.

Raha met West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya here over the weekend and discussed with him the exploration plans.

ONGC last drilled -- unsuccessfully -- in the state seven years ago.

ONGC has identified states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tripura as "asset zones". Some other areas are called "support service zones". It has classified West Bengal as a basin zone.

In 2000, the ONGC indicated it could wind up operations in West Bengal after stopping seismic surveys there. But new findings forced it to change its mind.

As part of onshore exploration, underground and underwater cables would be laid and measured explosions carried out.

Scientists would study the seismic graph of various earth levels to determine the likely presence of oil.

Source: IANS
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