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ONGC takes deep plunge

New Delhi, Aug. 3: Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has cleared the decks for the biggest oil-hunt ever in the nation's deep-sea blocks at a cost of around $0.8 million per day, which is expected to deliver $140 billion (over Rs 600,000 crore) worth of oil.

ONGC chairman Subir Raha told reporters today that two state-of-the-art rigs hired from global firms Bedford Drilling and TransOcean Sedco Forex would start drilling in the deep-sea blocks at depths of 900 to 3,000 metres once the monsoon was over. The rigs have been hired for three years. ONGC's own ship Sagar Vijay will also commence drilling up to a depth of 900 metres.

The project, “Sagar Samriddhi'', is expected to discover 4 billion tonnes of oil. Raha said at a conservative estimate, at least 25 per cent of this oil would be recoverable. At an average price of $20 per barrel, this would be worth $1.5 billion in the coming years.

ONGC has set a target of producing over 30 million tonnes of oil per year from the deep sea by the end of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2012). This will be equal to the country's current oil output from both onshore and offshore fields like Bombay High. In order to achieve this goal, 50 per cent of ONGC’s oil exploration budget is being allocated for the deep-sea project.

The two rigs, Bedford Dolphin and Discoverer Seven Seas, are equipped with cutting-edge technology and have been involved in major deep sea oil finds in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea. Raha said the most advanced rigs ever to operate in Indian waters had a high safety rating, which was considered essential for deep-sea blocks.

Foreign consultants like Landmark Paradigm and Jason, Schlumberger and Triton will form part of a team to assist the drilling efforts.

MRPL reduces loss

Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd has reduced its net loss to Rs 86 crore in the first quarter of this fiscal ended June 30 from Rs 117 crore in the corresponding previous period.

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