Agartala, Oct 26 : State-owned ONGC, by deploying a record number of rigs, including one from China, has embarked on an aggressive road-map to explore more natural gas in the northeastern state of Tripura, bordering Bangladesh.
"We have undertaken an ambitious plan to explore more natural gas in Tripura. The state has vast reserves of natural gas," Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Executive Director S.C. Soni told IANS.
"Currently, four high-capacity rigs, including one hired from China, are in operation to drill new wells and three other rigs are also in operation to maintain production from existing wells," he added.
"From January (2017), the number of high-capacity rigs would be increased to eight from the existing four to further step up drilling operations in various parts of the state."
Soni, who had headed operations in Mumbai High, said ONGC is currently drilling 14 to 15 wells per year. With the deployment of the additional rigs, the number would go up to 20 to 22 a year.
ONGC has so far drilled about 210 wells in Tripura, more than half of which are gas-bearing, Soni said.
He said that a 110 million-tonne high-capacity rig valued at more than Rs 23 crore was deployed last week in the Kunjaban field, near Agartala. Its 109-foot mast height is suitable for operations up to 5,000 metres depth and is equipped with the latest technology and all safety features.
The company earlier this month hired the Chinese rig for Rs 9.5 lakh per day. The truck-mounted rig can drill up to 3,500 metres.
"Additionally, being a mobile rig, precious time would be saved in moving it and its accessories from one location to the other," Soni noted.
"The ONGC board had earlier approved a plan to invest Rs 5,050 crore by 2022 to explore for more gas in Tripura," said Soni, a technocrat who has vast experience in managing high-value projects.
"Under this plan, new wells would be drilled and additional surface facilities would be created to increase gas production from 5.1 million standard cubic metres per day (MSCMD) to at least 6.25 MSCMD from Tripura's gas fields, he said.
ONGC has so far discovered 11 gas fields in the state, seven of which are in production, said Soni, who is also the asset manager of ONGC Tripura.
Under the investment plan to produce and supply 6.25 MSCMD to various consumers, including production of electricity, for another 15 to 20 years, at least 153 wells are to be drilled, he said.
"To enhance gas production, processing and supply capabilities, the GCS (Gas Collection Centre) in Sonamura, Gojalia and Konaban would be upgraded and around 900 km gas pipelines would be laid."
The company had earlier commissioned its first commercial power project in India, located in southern Tripura and run by ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC), formed by ONGC, the Tripura government and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited (IL&FS).
The 726 MW gas-based combined cycle power project (hydro and natural gas) is located at Palatana, 60 km from Tripura capital Agartala.
"Electricity is being supplied to seven of the eight northeastern states from Palatana. Also 100 MW of power is being supplied to Bangladesh since March," Soni said.
"The generation capacity of the OTPC power project is likely to be increased to 1,090 MW in the near future. Work is going on in this direction," a top OTPC engineer told IANS, on condition of anonymity.
ONGC has also committed to supply gas to another state-owned company, North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (Neepco), which set up a 100 MW power project at Monarchak, 70 km south of here.
Besides, ONGC, which had started its operation in Tripura in 1972, has been supplying gas to various Tripura government and Neepco-owned power projects in the state.
ONGC has also planned to set up a Rs 5,000 crore fertiliser plant in northern Tripura in association with the state government and Chambal Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd, a Rajasthan-based private company.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)