April 22, 2024, 12:59 pm

Staff Correspondent

2023-01-30 01:46:22 BdST

Multi-client survey starts finallyHunt for hydrocarbon in bay

The Norway-US joint venture (JV) finally started the long-awaited multi-client survey in early January, four years after getting the job to delineate hydrocarbon reserves in the Bay of Bengal.

The TGS-Schlumberger JV is expecting to terminate the seismic survey by mid-May, a senior Petrobangla official said on Saturday.
It has initiated the job only two months ahead of the deadline of its contract period.

The JV has up to March 2023 to do the survey as per its deal with Petrobangla, the state-run petroleum agency that is hobbled by global energy supply crunch.

It might extend the tenure as the JV has initiated the survey lately, added the official.

The TGS-Schlumberger JV has bank guarantee worth $0.5 million deposited with Petrobangla under the deal for carrying out the job.

Potential global oil-gas majors that have planned to participate in Bangladesh's forthcoming offshore bidding round might, however, get data in hand before making any decision to do exploration if they win in tender, said sources.

Sources said TGS-Schlumberger was picked through competitive bidding for the survey.

The cabinet committee on economic affairs approved the awarding of the job to the firm in April 2019.

The pandemic Covid-19 along with a subsequent record fall in oil and energy prices globally, however, kept the contractor at bay from initiating the survey.

The Norwegian seismic specialist TGS and US oilfield service provider Schlumberger are now working on a similar survey project in the US Gulf of Mexico.

The JV is expected to survey 21 offshore blocks within the sovereign territory of Bangladesh for potentially untapped hydrocarbon reserves.

Neighbouring countries are, meanwhile, reportedly extracting fossil fuels.

The blocks together cover an 81,000 square-kilometre area with depths ranging from 20 metres to around 2,500 metres in the bay.

On completion of the survey, Petrobangla will supply non-exclusive seismic data of the blocks to interested international oil companies (IOCs) to help them do basin evaluation, prospect generation and participation in the bidding for exploration.

As per the tender terms, the JV surveyor will not get any payment from Petrobangla for its work but be free to sell data to the interested IOCs.

The TGS-Schlumberger tie-up, however, will have to share the seismic data and the profit with the host.

It got two years to complete the survey and would be free to trade the data over the next eight years.

Bangladesh never conducted any multi-client seismic survey in its offshore areas.

It earlier floated international bid several times for oil-gas dig by IOCs in onshore and offshore areas.

The bid-winning IOCs carried out seismic surveys in their respective blocks on their own before initiating oil and gas explorations.

The country's offshore areas are now well-demarcated following verdicts from international courts.

Bangladesh has territorial rights up to 200 nautical miles from the shore in the Bay of Bengal as an exclusive economic zone.

It has also free access to around 387 nautical miles into deep sea following the demarcation of maritime boundary by the International Court of Arbitration.

There are prospects of hydrocarbon in Bangladesh's territorial waters, as both India and Myanmar have already discovered huge gas reserves in the bay.

"The IOCs are expected to show significant interest in exploring offshore areas once the seismic data is available," said energy expert Prof M Tamim, now pro-VC of Brac University.

Bidding was floated in 2008, 2012 and 2016, with the participation of a few IOCs only. Production-sharing contracts (PSCs) could be inked only for four blocks.

Currently, four IOCs have active PSCs, either individually or under JV, to explore three shallow-sea (SS) blocks for offshore exploration.

ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) are jointly exploring SS blocks 04 and 09.

US oil major Chevron is active in exploring and producing natural gas in three fields under onshore blocks 12, 13 and 14.

Singapore's KrisEnergy is producing gas from Bangora field under block 09.

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