The domestic exploration plans of the Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) in India will receive a boost with the return of its offshore rig from Iran, and also save the company’s payout of $80,000 (Rs35.42 lakh) per day for leasing another rig.
The rig, Kedarnath, is expected to be back in the country by April this year, and will be redeployed for the company’s work plans in the western offshore (Arabian Sea) for exploration. ONGC produces 685 million tonnes of crude and 375 billion cubic metres of gas, from its 115 fields. The western offshore contributes around 71% of the total produce.
Kedarnath is a jack-up rig, which is a floating drilling platform with legs that can be lifted high off the seafloor while the platform is towed to the drilling site.
At present, there is a global shortage of rigs. Of the 100 rigs with ONGC, 30 are offshore rigs—of which 10 are company-owned and the rest leased. In such a situation, Kedarnath will add muscle to the company’s exploration plans in India.
The rig has already dug three wells in the Farsi block and is on the way to complete drilling on the last well.
“The last well in the block is being dug and the work is expected to be completed within this month. The rig is expected to be back by April this year and help in the company’s work plans in the country,” a company executive said.
The Kedarnath rig was sent to Iran for drilling offshore exploration wells at the Farsi block in Iran where ONGC is the operator with a 40% stake. The other stakeholders in the block are Indian Oil Corp. and Oil India, with 40% and 20% stakes, respectively.
“As ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) was not able to get a rig at that point of time due to a severe scarcity, we had taken off Kedarnath from its commitments in India and had sent it to Iran,” the executive added.
ONGC wants the rig back before the onset of monsoons. Kedarnath can drill up to a depth of 20,000 feet and is on lease to ONGC for three years. While Gesco Ltd owns Kedarnath, it is managed by the Great Eastern Shipping Ltd.
The company has struck oil at the three wells that have been drilled and is hopeful of success in the fourth well in the Farsi block.
“The oil found in the wells is thick and its viscosity is high. The block holds a lot of promise and geological testing is going on to determine the extent of the commercially recoverable oil in the block,” the executive added.