India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corporation has re-initiated the chase for a sizeable contract for the acquisition of offshore seismic data in the gas-rich KG-DWN-98/2 deep-water block, off the country's eastern coast.

Two sources familiar with the development told Upstream that ONGC recently kicked off the delayed tender process for choosing a seismic contractor for the four-component 3D-ocean-bottom node (OBN) seismic drive in the Krishna Godavari basin.

“Bids are likely to be submitted on 21 July and ONGC is expected to award the contract later this year,” one person said.

The Indian giant is targeting the block's Cluster 2 and Cluster 3 areas and believes that the KG basin block still holds a strong exploration upside.

While ONGC is currently executing a $5 billion development project for the Cluster 2 region, it is said to be in pre front end engineering and design phase for the more challenging Cluster 3 development that lies in deeper waters, Upstream understands.

One person said ONGC aims to further exploit the exploration potential of the Cluster 2 and Cluster 3 regions in the KG basin block, ahead of embarking on further development projects on its flagship deepwater asset.

The Indian state-owned player is also trying to rope in international oil & gas giants for the KG-DWN-98/2 block, as it aims to involve partners, which could bring in technical expertise and deepwater experience.

Work scope

In its new seismic tender, ONGC aims to acquire up to 150 square kilometres of 4C-3D OBN seismic data in Cluster 3 and an additional 500 square kilometres in Cluster 2 region, according to the tender document.

For Cluster 3, water depths are expected to range between 2700 and 2900 metres, while in Cluster 2 the seismic contractor will likely be working in water depths of between 250 and 1250 metres.

The preferred contractor can deploy any number of source and node handling vessels for the seismic contract, Upstream understands.

Only seismic vessels younger than 24 years old will be eligible to carry out the data acquisition programme.

The seismic contractor will be required to mobilise within 90 days of the contract award.

The Indian giant floated a similar 4C-3D OBN tender for the KG basin project last year, but did not award a contract, industry sources said.

Multiple campaigns

ONGC, led by its chief executive Alka Mittal, is carrying out multiple 2D and 3D seismic acquisition campaigns across several exploration blocks in the country aimed at ramping up the 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 several years and has given state-owned explorers a mandate to push forward their exploration plans.

However, a recently imposed windfall tax on leading domestic producers including ONGC could curtail some of their offshore exploration plans, project watchers said.

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