Kochi: State-owned explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd, or ONGC, has for the first time begun ultra deep-sea drilling off the Kochi coast in Kerala. ONGC also proposes to start another drilling operation not far from the location.
ONGC chairman and managing director R.S. Sharma said the drilling, which can go up to 6.5km deep into the sea, and costing at least Rs400 crore was launched on Sunday, some 70 nautical miles (1 nautical mile is roughly 1.9km), from Kochi.
Mega plans: ONGC chairman and managing director R.S. Sharma. Rajkumar / Mint
The drilling is expected to be completed in 100 days, by which time ONGC expects to get a clear picture of the availability of oil and natural gas in the vicinity. The area to be covered is roughly 55 sq. km. If oil is struck, it would take six-seven years before it could be tapped commercially, said D.K. Pande, director of exploration at ONGC.
He added that ONGC had hired rigs from Reliance Industries Ltd to overcome an acute shortage of rigs. The state-owned explorer is expected to get a new rig in December and another in September 2011.
Because rentals for hired rigs are high, with the cost rising to as much as Rs4 crore a day, exploration has to be undertaken under a strict time schedule. However, ONGC faces the prospect of inclement weather and extreme temperatures and water pressure affecting the schedule, Pande said.