25 Jan 2010 16:10

Gazprom plans to start drilling third exploration well in Bay of Bengal early March

MOSCOW. Jan 25 (Interfax) - A subsidiary of Gazprom plans to start drilling a third exploration-appraisal well at Block 26 in the Bay of Bengal off the Indian coast early March, the Russian gas giant said in a statement.

A contract with Japan Drilling Co. Ltd has been signed. The company will use a Hakuryu-5 semi-submersible rig to drill to a depth of up to 3,200 meters. The drilling could take five months, including tests.

Gazprom and Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) signed a production-sharing agreement for Block 26 back in 2000. Gazprom says on its website that its share in the project is currently 100% and that aggregate reserves are estimated at 375 million tonnes of fuel equivalent.

Two wells have so far been drilled - one to 2,445 meters and the other to 4,338 meters, and both were found to be dry, however a decision was reached in October 2008 to continue work at the block, performing 1,600 kilometers of 2D seismic surveying and drilling one well.

The Herbert Smith law firm advised on the contract with Japan Drilling Co. An accident occurred when drilling the previous well, using an Ekha rig owned by Norway's Seadrill. Gazprom won compensation for damages from Seadrill in a UK court.