Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Ltd has got environment clearance (EC) for its Rs 580 crore project to drill seven exploratory wells in Kutch Saurashtra offshore block GK-OSN-2009/2 on west coast of Gujarat.
The EC was awarded recently to ONGC by the MoEF after recommendation by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC).
According to ONGC's proposal initially five exploratory wells will be drilled. In case hydrocarbon is discovered, two more exploratory wells will be drilled. All the proposed drilling will be carried out at locations beyond 5 km from the coastal line. The project is located in Kutch offshore area having an area of 1,242 sq km.
The block was awarded to ONGC as operator from August 5, 2010, which has participating interest of 40%, while joint venture partners Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Limited (GSPCL), Adani Welspun Exploration Ltd (AWEL) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) Ltd have participating interest of 20% each.
As per the PSU's proposal no sensitive areas such as coral reef, marine water park, sanctuary and any other eco-sensitive area is located within 10 km distance of the project site.
However, the one of the drilling well is located at a distance of 19 km from eco-fragile zone of Narayan Sarovar Wildlife Sanctuary. Another well is located at distance of 12.5 km from the active turtle nesting site at kamond-suthri coastal area. No construction/operation activities will be carried out between Low Tide Level (LTL) and High Tide Level (HTL) and on the coastline.
Wells have been proposed between 7 to 26 km from coast (LTL), while the total cost of project is estimated to be Rs 580 crore. Depth of wells will be around 4,200 mt.
The proposal was considered by the Expert Appraisal Committee (Industry-2) in its 25th meeting held during July 28-30, 2011 and 7th REAC (I) meeting held during April 4-5, 2013 respectively. The committee recommended the proposal for environmental clearance.
The MoEF in its letter granting EC to ONGC said, "Public Hearing/Public Consultation meeting was exempted as the project site is located in offshore. The Ministry of Environment and Forests hereby accords environmental clearance to the project subject to strict compliance of the specific and general conditions."
The ministry has asked the company to ensure that there be no impact on flora fauna due to drilling of wells in the offshore sea. It has further asked them to undertake conservation measures to protect the marine animals in the region and monitor the petroleum hydrocarbons and heavy metals concentration in the marine fish species regularly and submit report to the MoEF.
Among the conditions laid down by the MoEF, ONGC needs to develop waste minimisation plan and carry out Geo- hazard and geotechnical studies to ensure safe drilling operations.
Proper inventory management, following best practices in drilling operations, good house keeping practices, optimised equipment maintenance schedules and independent audit to ensure Environment Management Plan (EMP) is in place in totality, are the few of the other general conditions imposed by the ministry for the project.