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ONGC in Rs 3700cr exploration drive

New Delhi, Jan. 12: ONGC has drawn up a Rs 3,700-crore plan for deep sea exploration that it will focus on during the Tenth Five-year Plan, chairman Subir Raha said here today.

Speaking on the concluding day of the Petrotech-2003 conference, he told journalists that of the 6 billion tonnes of oil and an equivalent amount of gas that ONGC expects to find till 2020, it plans to get as much as 4 billion tonnes from deep water areas. The plan allocation for deep-sea exploration would go up in case of a major oil or gas discovery, he added.

Raha said while ONGC would use its own drilling rig Sagar Vijay for water depths of up to 900 metres, it would be hiring three other rigs to drill exploratory wells in the blocks that exceed this depth.

The chairman said that international tenders have already been floated for the three rigs.

These will be finalised in April to pave the way for drilling operations to begin in September this year. This is the post-monsoon season when the high seas are relatively calm and operations are easier to handle.

He disclosed that ONGC has set up three multidisciplinary teams for deep-sea operations. Each team will specialise in exploration, development and production activities respectively.

Raha said ONGC was also interested in farming-out its equity in deep sea exploration blocks to other oil companies which possess advanced technological know-how and are financially sound.

But he admitted that leading companies such as Exxon-Mobil and British Petroleum had not responded to the ONGC offer.

However, two small western companies have shown interest in the blocks during the Petrotech conference and discussions will proceed further, he added.

Deep-sea oil exploration is both a high cost and high risk venture. The drilling costs work out to around $ 400,000 per day. Farming out equity helps to share the cost and risk involved.

Raha also revealed that ONGC had offered to buy all the oil and gas fields in the country discovered by Cairn Energy. The UK company, however, has not put up its oilfield in Rajasthan and gas field in the Gulf of Cambay on sale.

He said Petrotech-2003 had turned out to be “a major success’’ as over 612 technical papers were presented and discussed at various sessions. This has resulted in a highly beneficial sharing of global knowledge in the hydrocarbon sector. CEOs of major companies such as Halliburton and EOP of the USA attended the conference.

The arrival of the Opec president for the conference was another highlight which reflects that India is emerging as a hydrocarbon destination, he added.

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