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OIL hits first reserve abroad
- Black gold find in Africa

OIL employees carry out drilling operations in Gabon. Telegraph picture

Jorhat, July 26: Oil India Limited (OIL) has for the first time struck black gold on foreign shores, its tryst with history coming in the central African nation of Gabon on Monday.

“This is a new chapter in the history of OIL,” a senior official of the company told The Telegraph today. OIL, a Navratna company, is a pioneer in oil exploration and production in India.

OIL had obtained the well Lassa-1, where oil has been struck, on onshore block Shakthi (G4-220) from the government of Gabon for hydrocarbon exploration in April 2006 after forming a joint venture with Indian Oil Corporation Limited, which has a 45 per cent stake in the project, and Marbis, Singapore, with 10 per cent stake. OIL was the operator. The success is its first as an operator abroad.

Gabon is only the second country after Libya where OIL is directly involved in drilling operations.

The company had failed to strike hydrocarbon in Libya and had halted its operations after disturbances broke out in that country a couple of years back.

The company is also involved in activities like investments and supply of materials in countries like Sudan, Iran, Yemen, the US, Venezuela, Nigeria, Egypt and East Timor. But it has a direct presence only in Venezuela, the US and Gabon at present.

The official said OIL struck hydrocarbon in Gabon at 1.30pm (IST), bringing cheer among the workers involved in the operation. “This was the third well where we carried out operations in the particular block after failing to strike oil in the first two,” he added.

Quoting preliminary reports, the official said the well has recorded a flow of crude oil at the rate of 220-225 barrels per day and natural gas at the rate of 4,330 standard cubic metres per day.

He said it was a daunting task as the drilling of the three wells had to be completed before the expiry of the block permit.

“The locations, which were released by the Gabon government in mid-December 2011, were staked in deep forest where there was no communication. OIL personnel had to walk several kilometres inside the dark and deep forests. Operation in Lassa-1 started on May 19 and the final depth, 2,041 metres, was reached on June 29,” the official said.

Shakthi (G4-220) block is nearly 80km long and 45km wide and around 250km from Gabon’s capital Libreville. It was obtained in April 2006 and aeromagnetic and seismic surveys were carried out in December 2011.

Drilling activities were initiated thereafter by finalising various service contracts, which were in place in a very short time within April 2012, the official said.

OIL hired a 1,500 HP VFD Rig from Punj Lloyd Upstream Ltd, India, for the drilling of wells. Other service providers were Schlumberger-Gabon, MI Gabon, Oilfield International, India, and Sinopec, Gabon. The project management services were provided by First Drill Limited, UK, and the civil works contract was awarded to GTP, Gabon.

The total allocated budget for carrying out exploration in the block is $97.5 million, including $40.94 million for drilling in the three wells.

The official said the estimated hydrocarbon reserves in the block could not be divulged immediately because of “certain restrictions imposed by the government”.