Petroleum Ministry considering rig holiday appeal by RIL,ONGC

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Mumbai, Mar 4 (UNI) The Petroleum Ministry is likely to take a decision in a couple of weeks about the rig holiday sought by State run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) due to paucity of rigs globally.

This was indicated by Union Petroleum Ministry secretary M S Srinivasan to mediapersons after the inauguration of a three day SPE Indian Oil and Gas Technical Conference and exposition here today.

The Ministry had earlier expressed the requests made by the two oil giants, but was now considering a renewed appeal for a three year rig exploration holdiay in respective phases of deepwater blocks to fulfill the balance exploratory drilling commitments.

The extension period, in terms of profit sharing contract (PSC) provisions and extension policy, would commence after expiry of the respective phases. The petroleum ministry might approve and decide proposals received from the directorate general hydrocarbons (DGH) for rig holidays within the three years.

Replying to a question he said the industry was likely to witness a growth of around 25 per cent over the next few years. He said a decision also will be taken in a couple of weeks on the implementation of the KL oil pipeline.

ONGC has argued that it will be impossible to fulfill its commitment to drill 89 wells in a total of 16 deepwater blocks acquired till Nelp-V. The company sought a holiday on its drilling programme until 2014 to meet its commitments. ONGC said that it had initiated the process of hiring ultra-deepwater rigs and one rig was in the process of being hired, but deployment will be possible only in 2010.

Meanwhile, RIL has highlighted a study done by Rig Management Norway (RMN) on behalf of the DGH that no deepwater rigs will be available until mid-2008 and the lead-time for new builds was three years. What was more, no ultra-deepwater rigs were currently available and five such rigs will only be in the market in the second quarter of 2009.

ONGC holds 52.5 per cent of the total petroleum exploration licence (PEL) area in the country, while RIL ranks at second position in the country, with 31.2 percent of the available PEL areas under its control.

The Directorate of Hydro Carbons had with the deep-water regime witnessing maximum growth said that the eastern coast was the Hub of exploration activity with over 25 operators hunting for oil and gas.

However the industry was facing a resource crunch in terms of equipment, particularly the availability of rigs and seismic vessals due which there was a dent in the working programme of various operators. It had sought collaboration between the service providers and operators to tide over the crisis.

Recently DGH had in a statement stressed the urgent need for networking between various stakeholders at all levels and taken an initiative in proposing a rig-sharing arrangement between various operators. Similar process can be adopted for other services and equipment also. DGH was prepared to provide the platform necessary to achieve this objective.

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