Indian ONGC Videsh Ltd has floated tender to pick contractors to do the drilling of two exploratory wells in two separate offshore blocks in the Bay of Bengal.
The oil-gas explorer would get Titly in shallow sea (SS) block-04 and Moitree in block-09 dug by the selectees, a senior energy ministry official told the FE on Monday.
Drilling these shallow water wells is mandatory for the ONGC within its contract period by February 2023.
Once done, it would be the first offshore drilling in the country's sea territory after four years.
Australian Santos along with the state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Ltd (BAPEX) in February 2017 drilled offshore Magnama-2 well under block 16 which was found dry after drilling.
The joint venture had drilled the well to a depth of around 3,200 metres to find it dry.
The drilling cost the BAPEX almost $29 million in loss.
Currently, no exploratory activities are being carried out in offshore blocks inside the country's territorial areas in the Bay.
There is also no producing offshore gas well here and the entire natural gas output comes from onshore fields and the import of liquefied natural gas.
Any fresh discovery of hydrocarbon in an offshore field will boost the country's future oil and gas reserves.
To carry out the drill, the Indian ONGC has already completed a portion of a geo-hazard survey on the two offshore blocks.
Officials said drilling of another well at Kanchon is also mandatory for the firm under the production-sharing contract (PSC) with Petrobangla.
The ONGC had a plan to initiate drilling an exploratory well at Kanchan in SS block-04 last year.
But the onslaught of the deadly coronavirus pandemic and a row over advance income tax and demurrage charges to port delayed its previous drilling plan.
According to sources, the ONGC planned to drill the wells buoyed by the findings of two dimensional (2D) seismic surveys.
The state-run Petrobangla earlier extended the tenure of contract with the ONGC by two more years until February 2023 to boost offshore exploration.
The deal with the Indian firm was set to expire in February 2021 after an initial two-year extension.
Petrobangla signed two PSCs with the ONGC on February 17 in 2014, which was set to expire in February 2019.
The ONGC is the operator of SS blocks-04 and 09, having participating interest of 45 per cent.
Indian OIL holds 45-per cent participating interest and the BAPEX the remaining 10-per cent interest.
The SS block-04 covers an area of 7,269 square kilometres while block-09 stretches an area of 7,026 square kilometres.
Water depth of both shallow-sea blocks ranges between 20 and 200 metres.
As per the PSC, the ONGC is committed to conducting 2,700 line-kilometre 2D seismic data acquisition and processing and one exploratory well in block-04.
It is also committed to doing 2,700 line-kilometre 2D seismic data acquisition and processing and two exploratory wells in block-09.
The ONGC will be allowed to operate and sell oil and gas for 20 years from an oil field and 25 years from a gas field.