OPINION: India's Oil & Natural Gas Corporation's (ONGC) decision to press ahead with fresh exploration plans in the country is a welcome fillip for seismic contractors battered by a sharp sector downturn amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The state giant is pushing ahead with its seismic data acquisition plans for the upcoming field season that starts in November and has floated tenders for 3D broadband surveys in two promising shallow-water blocks off the west coast.

ONGC is soon also likely to offer additional offshore data acquisition jobs as it aims to embark on exploration activities on blocks awarded during the previous rounds of India’s Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP).

While the prevailing low crude price environment has severely dented prospects for 3D offshore seismic projects globally, ONGC could take advantage of rock-bottom dayrates in the suppressed market.

India still imports more than 80% of the crude it consumes and the government is keen to increase indigenous oil and gas production to reduce the nation’s dependence on costlier imports.

While a faster than expected energy transition threatens several costlier offshore oil and gas exploration projects around the globe, ONGC is driven by the government’s mandate to continue its hunt for hydrocarbons.

There is bound to be no shortage of interest from seismic contractors in the ONGC jobs as they latch on to a bright spot — albeit it a relatively small one — in what has been another dark year for the sector.

(This is an Upstream opinion article.)