The Financial Express

US-Norwegian JV to launch offshore survey this year

M AZIZUR RAHMAN | Published: February 20, 2020 10:08:51 | Updated: February 20, 2020 11:56:29

Representational photo. Courtesy: Jiri Rezac Representational photo. Courtesy: Jiri Rezac

State-run Petrobangla has planned to initiate offshore survey this year as the required scrutiny for signing the final deal with the relevant contractor is complete.

"We are expecting to initiate the multi-client seismic survey this year," Petrobangla chairman ABM Abdul Fattah told the FE on Wednesday.

He said the final deal with the Norwegian-US joint venture, TGS-Schlumberger, to initiate the survey that would help locate potential hydrocarbon (HC) reserve sites in the country's territorial water in the Bay of Bengal is likely to be signed soon.

The bid winner TGS-Schlumberger is expected to survey 22 offshore hydrocarbon blocks.

The blocks cover 81,000-square kilometres having the depth ranging from 20 metres to 2,500 metres in the Bay.

On completion of the survey, the JV company will be able to sell the seismic data to the interested international oil companies, or IOCs.

It will help the companies carry out basin evaluation, prospect generation and participation in the bidding for exploration.

The JV will not receive payment from Petrobangla for its work to be done in two years according to the bidding terms.

It will be free to sell the seismic data to the interested IOCs for the next eight years.

The TGS-Schlumberger, however, would have to share data and profits with Petrobangla.

The JV surveyor was selected to carry out the job twice following two separate competitive biddings floated back in 2015.

The initial bid launched in early 2015 was scrapped and the subsequent bidding in late 2015 has been held up in the past three-and-a-half years.

The cabinet committee on economic affairs in the April 24 meeting approved awarding the job to the JV around three and a half years after its selection in late 2015.

This delay in awarding the job for the seismic survey has kept the launching of much-needed offshore exploration pending, prompting the authorities to import 'expensive' liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to meet the rising demand for natural gas, said energy experts.

People familiar with the situation said the Norwegian seismic specialist TGS and US oilfield service Schlumberger are currently involved in such a seismic project in the Gulf of Mexico.

In order to restore TGS-Schlumberger's confidence, Petrobangla had to discuss one-to-one with around a dozen IOCs and get their feedback on the recently-adopted model production sharing contract.

Petrobangla will also have to announce a fresh bidding round for some other offshore blocks within the next several months, Mr Fattah said.


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