India’s state-controlled Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has launched a sizeable seismic tender for 3D broadband data acquisition in multiple offshore tracts in the Mumbai and Andaman basins.

Two people with direct knowledge of the development told Upstream that ONGC recently started a chase for a “sizeable” offshore seismic data acquisition campaign in several blocks recently awarded through India's Open Acreage & Licensing Policy (OALP) bid rounds.

The new survey aims to acquire 3D broadband data over up to 8500 square kilometres, spread across five key oil and gas blocks, one person said.

Another source described the upcoming data acquisition campaign as “one of the largest offshore 3D broadband jobs offered by ONGC in recent years".

“The work being offered by ONGC is substantial and indicates that the company is serious about offshore and deep-water exploration prospects, despite the energy transition” he added.

Seismic plans

ONGC, headed by managing director Subhash Kumar, is targeting multiple 2D and 3D seismic acquisition campaigns across several exploration blocks as it steps up its hunt for oil and gas resources.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government plans to reduce the nation’s dependence on imported oil and gas over the next few years and has given state-owned explorers such as ONGC a mandate to push forward their exploration plans.

Five blocks on radar

The first three blocks being targeted by ONGC — MB-OSHP-2020/1, MB-OSHP-2020/2, MB-OSHP-2021/1 — lie in the Mumbai basin, offshore the country’s western coast in water depths ranging between 40 and 150 metres, Upstream understands.

ONGC wants to acquire almost 4400 square kilometres of 3D broadband data on the three blocks.

The company also plans to acquire 3D broadband data over 4100 square kilometres on two Andaman basin blocks near India's east coast.

The Andaman basin blocks — AN-UDWHP-2020/1 and AN-UDWHP-2020/2 — lie in deeper waters ranging between 700 and 3050 metres, according to the bid document.

The tender conditions stipulate a “minimum [of] one seismic vessel with at least eight streamers" for the data acquisition job.

The contract period is likely to be valid until April 2023, encompassing two field seasons —2021-2022 and 2022-2023 — from the Letter of Award, Upstream understands.

Field seasons are safe weather windows that start after the monsoon period concludes, usually in September or October.

While the Mumbai basin already hosts producing oil and gas developments, ONGC has yet to establish commerciality in the Andaman basin, which is expected to have a high potential for gas, one industry source told Upstream.

Players in fray

Norway's TGS and Shearwater GeoServices and France's CGG are among the contenders that might show interest in the 3D seismic job.

However, one project watcher indicated that other global seismic contenders could also be eyeing the data acquisition project.

Separately, ONGC earlier this year launched a seismic tender for a 4C-3D ocean bottom node seismic survey in the gas-rich KG-DWN-98/2 deep-water block offshore India's east coast.

The company is targeting the block's Cluster 2 and Cluster 3 areas, with the seismic drive likely to be carried out during the 2021-2022 field season, Upstream understands.