State-run petroleum exploration company Bapex is set to bid for a contract with India’s ONGC Videsh to drill an exploration well located at Kanchan in Cox’s Bazar under shallow sea block-4.
Bapex took the move at a time when the government decided to award contracts to three foreign companies to drill 13 onshore wells allocated for Bapex itself, said officials.
Bapex would soon sign commercial contracts with Russian company Gazprom, Azerbaijan-based SOCAR AQS LLC and China-based Sinopec International Petroleum Service Corporation under the Speedy Supply of Power and Energy (Special Provisions) Act 2010 that indemnified officials concerned against prosecution for making decisions, they said.
‘We will participate in the international tenders for the contract to drill an exploration well in SS-4,’ Bapex managing director Md Nowshad Islam told New Age on Wednesday.
Bapex has the required qualifications to carry out such a job as the drilling location is onshore, he said, adding that the well would be drilled to a depth of about 3,500 metres.
Officials said that Bapex would have the advantage of its own drilling rigs and other equipment available in Bangladesh to carry out the job at a cheaper rate than other potential bidders.
ONGC set September 17 as the last day of receiving bids for the job.
In 2013, Petrobangla, the parent organisation of Bapex, awarded ONGC two Production Sharing Contracts for oil and gas exploration in shallow sea blocks 4 and 9.
‘It is surprising that Bapex would bid for a drilling contract with a foreign company when it invites other foreign companies to do similar jobs in its own gas fields and hydrocarbon blocks,’ said energy expert Badrul Imam, a geology professor at Dhaka University.
Such a practice would harm the state-owned petroleum exploration company, he said, urging that Bapex should be allowed first to carry out drilling in the gas fields and hydrocarbon blocks under state-owned companies.
In 2015, Bapex won a similar contract to drill two wells at Bangora gas field which is operated by Singapore-based KrisEnergy under a Production Sharing Contract.
At that time, Gazprom was given contracts to drill 15 wells at different locations at more than double the price at which Bapex could do the job, the officials said. Of the 15 wells, Petrobangla initially allocated the drilling of 10 wells to Bapex.
Gazprom is currently drilling two onshore wells at Bapex-owned Shahbazpur gas field at nearly double the cost of what Bapex would have spent, they said.
Once the new contracts are signed, Gazprom will drill five wells — Mubarakpur-2, Srikail North-1, Shrikail East-1, Sunetra-2 and Madan-1 — targeting a depth of 5,000-5,500 metres.
SOCAR will drill four wells — Begumganj-4, Semutang South-1, Madarganj-1 and Shariatpur-1 — targeting a depth of 3,000-4,000 metres.
Sinopec will drill four wells — Hararganj-1, Batchia-1, Patharia West-1 and Dupitila-1 — targeting a depth of 3,500
The government expects to increase supply of natural gas by 250 million cubic feet per day
once the drilling was completed.
Now, Petrobangla supplies approximately 2,750 mmcfd of natural gas against a demand for more than 3,700 mmcfd, according to official data.