The government is going to drill two more wells in offshore and onshore areas for exploring more gas reserves. Besides, the country’s first drilling work in the Bay of Bengal has already been completed reaching about 3300 meters deep.
The move could bring some relief from the severe gas crisis in the country. If gas is found in the sea, it would increase domestic production, leading to less dependence on expensive Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Energy division officials said.
According to Energy, Mineral and Resources Division, Indian state-owned ONGC Videsh Ltd, jointly with Oil India Ltd. and Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (Bapex) will drill three wells - Kanchan-1, Maitri-1 and Pitli-1 in the Bay of Bengal under Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs).
ONGC will drill at the SS-4 or Shallow Sea-4 block and Block SS-09 located offshore in the Bay of Bengal.
Experts have disclosed that there are possibilities of finding an estimated 1.9 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas from the three wells in Cox’s Bazar.
Nazmul Ahsan, Chairman of Bangladesh Oil, Gas & Mineral Corporation (Petrobangla) said ONGC Videsh Ltd started first drilling work of a well named Kanchan-1 in SS-4 block for gas in maritime areas on September 29 last year. More than 3200 meters of drilling work with wireline logging has already been done in the well.
“The Indian company has started the process of drilling another well - Maitri-1 in Block SS-9 for oil and gas exploration in the Bay of Bengal. ONGC Videsh has already made a shortlisted bidder after technically evaluating the tenders. Currently, price negotiation work is going on to select a contractor finally. The contractor recruitment process will be completed soon,” he added.
Block SS-04 and Block SS-09 are located in offshore Bengal Basin and cover an area of 7269 Sq. Km and 7026 Sq. Km. with water depth ranging from 0 to 100 meters. The two blocks were awarded to a consortium of ONGC Videsh Ltd and Oil India Ltd. in the 2012 Bangladesh bid round, and the PSC was signed on February,17, 2014. ONGC Videsh with 45 percent PI is the operator and other partners are OIL with 45 percent PI and BAPEX with 10 percent PI.
As per the PSC contract obligation, contractors will survey and drill the blocks at their own cost, and they will meet 55 percent of their expenses each year from gas sales.
Petrobangla will own a minimum of 60 percent and a maximum of 85 percent of the recoverable gas, and a minimum of 70 percent and maximum 90 percent of the recoverable oil from the block.
Since the signing of the contract, the ONGC consortium has conducted a 5,500-line-km two-dimension or 2D seismic survey in the block.
Meanwhile, a project has been taken to drill a well named 'Bibiyana-27' in Habiganj district to ensure the presence of gas in the ‘North Flank Area’ of the Bibiyana gas field operated by Chevron. Currently, its gas production capacity is 1200 mmcfd (million cubic feet per day). Petrobangla hopes that the gas field reserves will increase if the well is dug successfully.
Energy expert professor Dr Izaj Hossain told Bangladesh Post, “The drilling work was supposed to start long ago. Although late, it is good news for us. However, it is necessary to drill at least 10 such wells in the Bay of Bengal every year. Then we could get a clear idea there. Besides, a multi-client survey should be done as soon as possible to get an accurate idea of the amount of mineral resources in the whole Bay.”
“To meet the domestic demand, Bangladesh is importing costly LNG from the international market. If the country finds sufficient reserves in offshore and onshore, it can help overcome the current crisis and save a huge amount of money,” he said.
On the other hand, in a bid to get an accurate idea of mineral resources inside the maritime boundary of Bangladesh, the government is going to start a 'Multi-Client Survey' to attract foreigners for oil and gas exploration for the first time.
A consortium of Norwegian companies TGS and Schlumberger of France will start the survey this year. As part of the first phase, the consortium will conduct a 13,600 line kilometer 2-D Multi-Client seismic survey at sea.
Petrobangla officials said that results will be available three months after the survey begins. The consortium will bear all the expenses of conducting the survey. In future, those foreign companies interested in exploring oil and gas at sea will buy the data of the survey.
In March 2012, and July 2014, in historic victories at the UN Maritime Tribunal, Bangladesh got 111,000 square kilometres and 19,467 square kilometres of sea areas from Myanmar and India respectively.
Huge potentials of the blue economy emerged after the settlement of the maritime boundary with India and Myanmar, but there is no progress yet in exploring the marine resources. Neighbouring India and Myanmar have already begun exploration and extraction of natural gas and oil from their territorial waters.