ONGC signs pact with US company

Mumbai: India`s public sector oil and gas major ONGC has signed a non-commercial agreement with the US-based ConocoPhillips to jointly explore and develop shale resources in both countries. The two firms will begin the joint mission by exploring ONGC`s shale gas blocks in the Damodar Basin and deepwater explorations in Eastern blocks, sources said here.

"This MoU envisages creating a steering committee that shall oversee all joint operations in the areas of mutual interest for shale opportunities in India, North America and elsewhere," ONGC chairman and managing director Sudhir Vasudeva said after inking the open-ended MoU here this evening. "The agreement involves data evaluation in the first phase, which is likely to be concluded in six moths. After this, we will build a firmer relationship," he said. The data evaluation would be on Damodar Basin blocks where four exploratory wells had been drilled in cooperation with Schlunberger and had done feasibility study on the rest of the blocks.

"Many of shale sequences in well explored basins are found to be promising. These basins are the Damodar, Cambay, KG and Cauvery. Though the resource estimation is yet to be carried out in these basins, studies have opined that that there is a potential for a successful business venture,"he said. "An integrated study has shown that the Damodar Basin has a potential of about 35 tcf of which 8 tcf is recoverable," Vasudeva said adding "we look forward to carry out similar activities in the Cambay, KG and Cauvery basins".

ConocoPhillips chief geoscientist and global business development director Jim Handsehy said Conoco is looking at participating in the next round of Nelp auctions for shale gas in the country. ONGC has 33 deepwater blocks in East and West coasts of which 29 are in the East coast. ONGC has a number of discoveries in the East coast in the KG and Mahanadi basins.