offshore

Sri Lanka’s Government has announced it will invite companies to bid for licences related to 13 blocks in the Cauvery and Mannar Basins off the country’s north-west coast.

The island nation, which spent nearly $5.04bn on imports in 2012 and does not produce oil currently, aims to end its dependence on imported fuel with the start of oil and gas exploration domestically.

In the last offering, Cairn India was the only firm to buy a licence. This latest offering comes after the company started the second part of its exploration programme in the beginning of February 2013, reported Reuters.

In the upcoming round, five licenses are expected to be offered for bidding. Cairn already holds rights to drill in one of eight blocks in the offshore Mannar basin, while China and India have been offered one each, which they are yet to accept.

During seismic work undertaken by Norway-based TGS Nopec Geophysical, oil and gas potential was identified in the northern Cauvery basin, which has producing wells on the Indian side.

"Cairn holds rights to drill in one of eight blocks in the offshore Mannar basin, while China and India have been offered one each."

The Sri Lankan Government said that the seismic data revealed the potential for more than one billion barrels of oil under the sea in a 30,000km² area of the Cauvery basin.

Sri Lankan Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat director general Saliya Wickramasuriya was quoted by Bloomberg as saying that ExxonMobil and Total have bought data related to the sale of 13 offshore fields.

Wickramasuriya also noted that Eni, BP and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) have also enquired about the bid, which is scheduled to open at a meeting in Houston on 7 March and complete in about five months subsequently.

"We’ve had 20 companies that took our data, made repeat visits, or expressed interest in taking discussions further in the framework of the bid round," Wickramasuriya added.

Russian natural gas firm Gazprom and Malaysia’s state oil company Petronas have also discussed with Sri Lanka the potential of exploration, while Vietnam and Sri Lanka had signed an agreement on oil and gas cooperation earlier in October 2011.


Image: Sri Lanka, which currently does not produce oil, spent nearly $5.04bn on imports in 2012. Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / suwatpo.

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