ONGC Drills Deepwater Duster in Kutch

ONGC has confirmed its third consecutive dry well in its expensive deepwater drilling campaign in Kutch. PETROWATCH has learned that the Belford Dolphin has moved 100 nautical miles west from its previous location DW-RO-1A in the Kutch offshore.

"The second well has been abandoned," a top ONGC source tells PETROWATCH. The well reached a target depth of 5,500 meters but with no result. Now the deepwater drillship has been deployed at a new location: GS-GW-2A. The well was spud on July 9th and its target depth this time is 4,130 meters. "The present location is a back up," the source says. "Our first priority is the KS-8 location but we are still awaiting clearance to deploy the drillship."

Since February, ONGC has been awaiting ministry clearance for the controversial KS-8 location, which sits in water depths of up to 2,000 meters on India's maritime border with Pakistan.

Oil ministry officials refuse to comment about any development on this issue, a stark contrast to two weeks ago when a solution appeared in sight. "All we can say is that diplomatic efforts are still on," a ministry official reveals.

ONGC officials are disappointed: "How long can we keep Belford in the Kutch offshore?" says one. "There is no clarity on the issue." In the second week of June, ONGC told the Belford Dolphin drilling team to prepare to move to KS-8, "Suddenly things became unclear and we were asked to move Belford to another location." If the oil ministry tells ONGC to drop KS-8, then ONGC's western offshore department will move Belford to the Mumbai offshore.

ONGC geologists fear that Belford might encounter gas hydrates when drilling at GS-GW-2A. "This area is known for gas hydrates and Belford will have to deal with them," explains ONGC. "Gas Hydrates are frozen lumps of gas which give the impression of a possible strike but then they dissolve in the water."

On the east coast, Transocean's deepwater drillship Discoverer Seven Seas continues to drill to reach target depth of 4,300 meters at location KD-3-1. On July 9th, the drillship had drilled up to 2,850 meters. PetroWatch - "Market Intelligence from the Oil, Gas & Power sector in India"