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ONGC halts operations at two rigs as 54 employees test COVID positive

By Shine Jacob
June 23, 2020 10:46 IST
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A company official said work stopped temporarily only at two rigs and the remaining 34 in the offshore were operational. He added there was no impact on the company’s production.

State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has halted operations at two drilling rigs in Western Coast, following the death of an employee and another 54 testing positive for coronavirus (Covid-19).

The two rigs are in two of the most lucrative assets of the company - Mumbai High and Bassein.

 

A company official said work stopped temporarily only at two rigs and the remaining 34 in the offshore were operational. He added there was no impact on the company’s production.

Mumbai High, also known as Bombay High, is an offshore oilfield located in the Arabian Sea, approximately 160 km west of the Mumbai coast.

The field, discovered in 1974 and started production in 1976, is known primarily for its oil production.

It also consists of two blocks – Mumbai High North and Mumbai High South.

Mumbai High produces around 170,000 barrels of oil per day and 12 million metric standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd) of natural gas.

On the other hand, Bassein field, also called the Vasai field, is located 80 km off the Mumbai coast and is considered one of the largest gas fields in India.

The field was discovered in 1976 and put in production in 1988.

Spread across 7,300 square kilometres in the Arabian Sea, it consists of South Bassein field, NBP (D-1) field, B-193 super sour field, Vasai East field and C-Series and Daman gas field.

Bassein field produces 32 mmscmd of gas and 60,000 barrels of oil per day.

ONGC claimed that works are going on following the standard operating procedure and its staff is properly informed about social distancing.

Interestingly, ONGC employee bodies had reportedly alleged that the infection was spreading due to lack of proper guidelines.

During the lockdown, its staff in Mumbai offshore fields were working continuously for five weeks.

It was only after the lockdown restrictions were lifted did ONGC arrange for charter flights for their workers to reach Mumbai.

The company’s overall production was hit badly by the lockdown due to the Covid 19 outbreak.

In April, the company’s natural gas production dropped by 15 per cent while its crude oil production dipped marginally by 0.5 per cent compared to the same month in 2019.

Overall, gas output of India for April also dropped 18.6 per cent to 2.16 billion cubic metres (bcm) against 2.65 bcm a year ago.

Crude oil production also fell 6.35 per cent to 2.5 million tonnes (mt) in April.

The state-run major cut its capital expenditure (capex) by over 15 per cent or Rs 5,000 crore for 2020-21.

India’s largest oil and gas producer had budgeted a capex of Rs 32,502 crore for the financial year.

However, now it has been cut to around Rs 27,500 crore. The company had also sought a price assurance of $45 a barrel on crude oil.

Photograph: Reuters

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Shine Jacob in New Delhi
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