OIL Calls for Pre-Drilling Environmental Impact Assessment Study in Assam

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DIPHU- Oil India Limited (OIL) invited a tender (No. OIL/NEF/039/2011) of hiring of services for pre- drilling environmental impact assessment study in Karbi Anglong and North Cachar( now Dima Hasao) Hills of north-eastern India’s (NELP-IV Block: AA-ONN-2002/3) state of Assam.

The invitation aims to obtain environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest, government of India to carry out exploratory drilling and testing of hydrocarbons.

The GOI enterprise invited bid from competent bidders within 29th May 2011, the Group General Manager NEF project, OIL, Duliajan, Assam. The organisation was apparently serious about the business and allotted two weeks time for accomplishing the job. But with no progress, neither environmental impact assessment survey has concluded nor any further field work has taken place in both the autonomous district. Before this, the task of exploration and production of oil and gas in Karbi Anglong district was shared by two Indian companies along with a small Canada based Oil Corporation of Vancouver “East West Petroleum” in April 2011, as is learnt.

The process to explore petroleum from the soil of Karbi Anglong started long back but due to several reasons the venture did not materialize.

The innovation of 2011 was expected to change the entire socio-economic and political scenario of this autonomous zone of Assam as well as India particularly in the area where oil has been struck, the oil Block lies in the Assam-Arakan Basin of northeast India. The DGH ( Director General of Hydrocarbon) even announced the winning bids of March 28th in New Delhi on a provisional basis, subject to final administrative review, the partnership was settled between Oil India Ltd. (“OIL”) (Operator, 40%), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India (“ONGC”) (30%), Gas Authority of India Ltd. (“GAIL”) (20%) and East West Petroleum (10%).

The primary term of this exploration Production Sharing Contract was for five years. The place where the oil was supposed to be explored was Karbi Anglong District which is within Arakan Basin, a proven petroliferous region which covers more than 116,000 sq. km in north-eastern India.

The Government of India surveyed over 60,000 km. zone and obtained 2D and 3D seismic data over 7600 sq. km. area based on statistics collected by drilling hundreds of wells, already encouraging number of oil and gas fields was found. Survey suggests that oil in place might excide 36 billion barrels. It may be mentioned here that OIL is a premier Indian national oil company engaged in the business of exploration, development and production of crude oil and natural gas, transportation of crude oil and production of LPG.

Currently OIL has a market capacity of US$7 billion. ONGC is India’s largest E&P petroleum company. It is mainly engaged in the oil exploration and production activities. It has two segments: exploration and production, refining. During the fiscal year ended March 31, 2010 (fiscal 2010), ONGC had a crude oil production of 32.95 million metric tons and natural gas production of 27.98 million metric tons.

As of March 31, 2010, ONGC operates more than 22,000 kilometres of pipelines in India, including nearly 4,500 kilometres of sub-sea pipelines. Currently ONGC has a market cap of just over US$52 billion.

GAIL is India’s principal gas transmission and marketing company. GAIL is involved in all aspects of the Natural Gas value chain, which include: exploration & production, processing, transmission, distribution and marketing, and its related services.

GAIL has a current market cap of US$12 billion. East West Petroleum Corp. is an emerging exploration and production company focused on conventional and unconventional petroleum resources. Currently East West is producing assets in Egypt and Canada, and exploration and exploitation assets in India, 5 million acres in a joint study agreement with Kuwait Energy in Egypt, Yemen, Russia and the Ukraine and one million acres in Romania.

If oil is extracted, the otherwise stiff torn Karbi Anglong District may soon turn into an oil rich place of India, much in the pattern of Duliajan, Digboi, of Upper Assam. This place will entice entrepreneurs from all across the country, which in term will benefit the indigenous tribal populace to a large extent.

Karbi Anglong presently reeling under several crises like insurgency, unemployment, ethnic clashes etc. will get a new lease of life; the entire socio-economic pattern of Karbi Anglong will change dramatically, if this venture ends up successfully.

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in Assam, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora of Assam, and the things that affect them.