Four decades and still flowing

Published : May 20, 2005 00:00 IST

ON April 19 and 20, there were celebrations at Nazira and Rudrasagar in Assam to commemorate 40 years of oil production in Assam. It was one of the first States where the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) started prospecting for hydrocarbons in the late 1950s. The first well was dug at Disangmukh in Assam on June 9, 1959, but it went dry. Based on the seismic data available from Disangmukh, the ONGC drilled its next well at Rudrasagar in December 1960 and it yielded oil. A Russian rig called Uralmash drilled the well. The field went into production on March 12, 1966. Thus, the saga of commercial oil production began in Assam. The contribution from Assam to the ONGC's total oil and gas production now is less than 5 per cent.

According to S.C. Upadhyay, Executive Director and Asset Manager, Assam Asset, ONGC, the first seismic survey in Assam was done in 1958 by S.N. Sen Gupta. Today, oil and gas are produced from 15 fields in the Assam Asset, which includes major fields such as Rudrasagar, Lakwa and Geleki, and small fields such as Charali, Demulgaon and Changmaigaon. Many new wells in isolated areas such as Safrai, Sonari, Nazira and Namti had also been put on production, said Upadhyay. Promising new discoveries have been made at Panidhing, Banamali, Laiplingaon, Tiphuk and Mackeypore. ONGC geoscientists have made "breakthroughs" in finding hydrocarbons in new areas in Assam. The ONGC top brass is confident that these breakthroughs would lead to fair- or good-sized reservoirs.

The Assam Asset is facing serious challenges because most of the oil fields discovered in the 1960s and 1970s are now on the decline. Seismic and reservoir data indicate that there is much more oil and gas to be produced from these reservoirs. Subir Raha, Chairman and Managing Director, ONGC, said: "It should be possible to stop the decline in the rate of production and achieve an increase in production in the coming years." He called this "the most important challenge today in the Assam Asset and this challenge is being tackled through the induction of the state-of-the-art technology in every discipline."

Upadhyay was confident that with the induction of technology such as horizontal drilling, high angle drilling and multi-lateral wells, "we are on our way to re-capture our glory" in the production of oil and gas in the Assam Asset.

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