Bright-eyed Harsh Poddar, promoter of Kolkata-based oil and gas start-up PFH Oil and Gas is a good example of the new breed of risk-taking businessmen thrown up by the Discovered Small Fields (DSF) licensing round.
Poddar boasts degrees from the prestigious London School of Economics, Duke University and Yale in the US. Like Facebook's young chief Mark Zuckerberg he has studied Mandarin.
Whether any of this will help him overcome India's notorious red tape as PFH enthusiastically begins work at three onland areas won under the DSF round where contracts were signed on March 27 (2017) is open to question. PFH representatives were at the DGH's Noida office on June 6 to collect data on the CB/ONDSF/Elao/2016 field in Gujarat and the KG/ONDSF/Achanta/2016 and KG/ONDSF/Bhimanapalli-Uppidi/2016 fields in Andhra Pradesh.
A company source confirms PFH has submitted a Rs1cr ($166,000) Performance Bank Guarantee (PBG) for each field. But veterans of India's notoriously complex E&P approvals process smile when they hear PFH's optimistic prediction that ONGC will transfer the PEL/ML this month (June) or by mid-July.
"The oil ministry is very supportive," counters a PFH company source. He adds PFH will soon begin applying for environmental clearance and simultaneously prepare a Field Development Plan (FDP).
Once PELs are granted by the Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh state governments, he says, PFH has three years in which to begin production.
No new wells at the KG onland fields have been committed by PFH. By contrast our company source declines to share details on ELAO in Gujarat where new wells have been committed. Independent sources believe 9.98-sq km ELAO, a gasfield in ONGC's Ankleshwar asset, needs extensive workover and has little potential. But the good news is that an Early Production System (EPS) belonging to ONGC is in place just 13-km away at Kim, which should make evacuating and selling gas easier. In Andhra Pradesh however the Achanta and Bhimanapalli gasfields hold "good" potential. "But even working over those wells will be costly," we hear. "Most KG basin wells are deeper than 3000 metres. You need high capacity rigs (of at least 1000-hp) for workover jobs here and this is expensive." Achanta measures 9.63-sq km and is located only 6-km from the Kavitham EPS while Bhimanapalli, measuring 15.1-sq km, is located only 15-km from the Gopavaram GGS.