The Norwegian-French joint venture (JV) finally started the long-awaited multi-client survey in early January to delineate hydrocarbon reserves in the Bay of Bengal.
The TGS-Schlumberger JV is expecting to complete the 1st phase pf seismic survey by mid-May this year followed by the 2nd phase of survey during the next weather window. The program's initial phase will comprise approximately 11,000-line kilometers of newly acquired high-resolution broadband 2D seismic data on a regional scale to enhance the geological understanding of the prospective Bengal Fan. In addition, the data will also be an essential tool for acreage evaluation, supporting future license rounds under the soon-to-be-revised fiscal terms widely anticipated by the industry. The overall program plans to encompass around 32,000-line kilometers of multi-client seismic data covering most of offshore Bangladesh. The new data will be acquired using long offset and long record lengths to image the deeper sections and will be processed through modern high-end broadband Pre-Stack Time and Depth migrated (PSTM/PSDM) workflows.
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. It might extend the tenure as the JV has initiated the survey lately. The TGS-Schlumberger JV has bank guarantee worth $0.5 million deposited with Petrobangla under the deal for carrying out the job. 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 Petrobangla.
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.
The Norwegian seismic specialist TGS and the French 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. The Neighboring countries are, meanwhile, reportedly extracting fossil fuels.
The blocks together cover an 81,000 square-kilometers 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.
Bangladesh never conducted any multi-client seismic survey in its offshore areas and It earlier floated international bid several times for oil-gas dig by IOCs in onshore and offshore areas but did not get desired success due to not having offshore seismic data, which is vital for the IOCs to make their investment decision. 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 also has 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.
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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