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Norwegian-US joint venture to conduct Bay hydrocarbon survey

M Azizur Rahman | May 13, 2019 00:00:00

The government has finally decided to employ the Norwegian-US joint venture (JV) TGS-Schlumberger for carrying out a survey to delineate the hydrocarbon reserves in the Bay of Bengal.

"We've invited the JV to ink the final deal and initiate the long-awaited multi-client seismic survey in the offshore areas," said a senior Petrobangla official.

The deal would be done soon to carry out the survey in the coming winter, he told the FE on Sunday.

The Norwegian seismic specialist TGS and oilfield service provider Schlumberger are currently involved in a multi-client seismic project in the Gulf of Mexico.

The JV was selected for the job twice following two separate competitive biddings floated back in 2015.

The initial bid in early 2015 was cancelled, and the subsequent bidding in late 2015 was held up over the past three-and-a-half years.

However, the cabinet committee on economic affairs in the April 24 meeting approved the awarding of the job to the joint venture.

The project is expected to survey 21 offshore hydrocarbon blocks within the sovereign territory of Bangladesh.

The blocks cover 81,000-square kilometres having depth ranging from 20 metres to 2,500 metres in the Bay.

On completion of the survey, Petrobangla plans to provide interested international oil companies (IOCs) with the non-exclusive multi-client seismic data of the offshore blocks.

The aim is to help the companies carry out basin evaluation, prospect generation and participation in the bidding for exploration.

The JV seismic surveyors would not receive payments for their work from Petrobangla as per the bidding terms.

But they would be free to sell the data to interested IOCs.

The TGS-Schlumberger, however, would have to share the seismic data and profits with Petrobangla.

It would get two years to do the survey and would be free to trade the data for the next eight years.

Officials said Bangladesh never carried out such a multi-client seismic survey in any offshore block.

The country earlier floated multiple international tenders to explore oil and gas both onshore and offshore by IOCs.

The bid winners carried out seismic surveys of their own in their respective blocks before initiating oil and gas exploration.

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

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

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

There is a huge potential for getting hydrocarbon in Bangladesh's maritime territory as both India and Myanmar have already discovered huge gas in the Bay.

The IOCs are expected to show significant interest to explore the country's offshore areas once the seismic data are available, said energy expert Prof M Tamim.

Petrobangla floated offshore bidding rounds without any survey in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Only a few IOCs took part in the bidding and production sharing contracts could be inked only for four blocks.


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