By Sujit Chakraborty
Guwahati/Agartala: After Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, the state-owned Oil India Limited (OIL) has ventured out to the fourth northeastern state of Tripura, aspiring to explore natural gas by conducting a seismic survey.
OIL, India’s second-largest national ‘Navratna’ company after ONGC, in terms of total proved plus probable oil and natural gas reserves, has kickstarted its exploration and production operations by launching its first-ever seismic survey in southern Tripura bordering Bangladesh.
OIL Deputy General Manager (CC) Tridiv Hazarika said that currently, the company has explored huge oil and gas reserves in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh while engaged in exploration works in Mizoram.
According to him, in Assam, OIL produces 3.3 million metric tons (MMT) oil annually and around eight million metric standard cubic meters per day of natural gas.
OIL is producing both oil and natural gas in Arunachal Pradesh while the company is doing exploration work but is yet to discover oil or gas in Mizoram.
“With another milestone for the company, we have commenced seismic survey operations in Santir Bazar (in southern Tripura) — the OALP-III block AA-ONHP – on January 17.
“Geologically, the block lies in the Tripura-Cachar (Assam) fold belt. Tripura is a border state of the country surrounded on all sides by the deltaic basin of Bangladesh except for a small part in northeast India which adjoins the Cachar district of Assam and the state of Mizoram,” Hazarika told IANS.
According to the official, the block AA-ONHP-2018/5, covers an area of 207.74 sq km.
He said that the Revenue Sharing Contract (RSC) between the government of India and OIL for the block was signed on July 16, 2019, and subsequently, the Tripura government had awarded the Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) on October 16, 2019.
The OIL official said that the logistics are challenging in this block and the company has chalked out extensive plans for seamless execution of its exploration campaign.
“While OIL would also be commencing execution of its field development plans in the neighbouring DSF (Discovery Small Field) block Tulamara (Tripura), based on success in its exploration campaign the company intends to carry further exploration activities in Tripura to access more hydrocarbon resources in this gas prolific area.”
He said that apart from consolidating its position in different northeastern states and Rajasthan, OIL has made conscious efforts to carry out exploration in Category II and III sedimentary basins in line with the government of India’s thrust for exploration.
“This is in line with the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by enhancing domestic exploration and production aiming to reduce dependence on crude oil imports,” Hazarika pointed out.
Another OIL official said that the company has completed first well (well KMC-15) in Kumchai Field in Arunachal Pradesh after the recent resumption of the drilling activities, which was kept in abeyance since 2003 due to non-availability of PML (Petroleum Mining Lease).
“OIL has drawn up ambitious plans for the future, including fast-tracking of exploration in Arunachal Pradesh,” the official said.
Besides the OIL, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) are the two government-owned companies that have been operating in the northeastern states and found huge oil and gas reserves in Assam and large quantities of natural gas in Tripura (by ONGC).
Several private oil and gas companies are also active in exploration works in different northeastern states. Oil company officials said that if terrorist activities, forest-related restrictions and land acquisition problems do not come in the way, the exploration companies can explore more gas and oil in the northeastern states.
The outlawed terror outfit United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) on Wednesday said that it has set February 17 to decide the fate of the two employees of Delhi-based private sector oil company — Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Ltd, whom it had abducted last month.
Pranab Kumar Gogoi, a drilling superintendent, and Ram Kumar, a radio operator of Delhi-based Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Ltd, were kidnapped at gunpoint by ULFA-I insurgents from the drilling site in Innao area of Arunachal Pradesh’s Changlang district on December 21 last year.
ULFA-I, which is currently headed by its “commander-in-chief” Paresh Barua, in a statement issued to the media, said that if the drilling company “fails to take positive steps to secure the release of their employees by February 16, the outfit would take action against one of the hostages Ram Kumar on February 17.”
Gogoi, a resident of Assam’s Sivasagar district, and Ram Kumar, who hails from Bihar’s Khagaria district, are heard in a video, released by the ULFA-I, saying that they are now in the captivity of the outfit and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) and they urged Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to get them released.