Anxious Drillers Await ONGC Verdict on Rig Tender

Several private sector drilling contractors are waiting anxiously for ONGC to announce the winners of a tender for seven rigs for deployment in the western offshore.

Eight companies submitted technical and price bids to ONGC for a total of 18 rigs on June 15th. Hot favorites to win the tender are Aban Loyd, Great Eastern Shipping and Transocean.

ONGC has divided the tender into five categories. In categories one and two (for exploration and mining lease areas where import customs duty has already been paid) ONGC is looking for five rigs. In category one ONGC is looking for a single rig only and received offers from three companies: Ocean Heritage (Diamond Offshore), Perro Negro 3 (Saipem) and Pride West Virginia (Aban Loyd). Hot favorite to win this tender is Pride West Virginia, which is already on hire to ONGC. It's believed owners Aban Loyd have quoted aggressively at between $50,000 and $60,000 per day.

In category two ONGC is looking for two rigs and received two offers: Hitdrill and Aban III (both from Aban Loyd). Expect Aban to win here because it has no competition. "Both these rigs have paid customs duty and are already working here," reveals a source. "Nobody else bid because they can't compete with Aban on price." Here too, Aban is learned to have quoted a price between $50,000 and $60,000 per day.

In category three (exploration and mining lease areas where no customs duty has to be paid) ONGC wants one rig and received three bids: Noble George McLeod (Jindal Group), JT Angel (Transocean) and Ocean Sovereign (Diamond Offshore). Either Jindal or Transocean is likely to win here. JT Angel is already working for ONGC at Mumbai High and Jindal is expected to bid aggressively for Noble George McLeod. The likely day rate for category three is also likely to be between $50,000 and $60,000.

In category four ONGC wants two 300-feet slot rigs and received four offers: Kedarnath (Great Eastern), CE Thornton (Transocean), Atwood Beacon (Atwood Oceanics) and Perro Negro 5 (Saipem).

Much uncertainty preceded this tender. Originally floated in January, the bid deadline was postponed several times as ONGC reduced its requirement from eight to seven rigs. Several changes were also made in the technical specifications for rigs in category four. Further delay ensued when ONGC top management wanted to float a consolidated tender for eastern and western offshore drilling – an idea later abandoned. PetroWatch - "Market Intelligence from the Oil, Gas & Power sector in India"
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