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India, Current Geophysical & Geological Surveys


Alphageo steaming ahead on National Seismic Programme 2D surveys with 16 crews
Independent contractor Alphageo India Ltd is deploying no fewer than 16 seismic crews on separate surveys within the government funded National Seismic Programme (NSP). Operational work is 25% complete.

NSP surveys currently being undertaken by contractor Alphageo

NSP surveys currently being undertaken by contractor Alphageo

The NSP programme was formally inaugurated by Minister of Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan in October 2016; overall, it is designed to investigate and better understand the prospectivity of a number of so-far unexploited onshore sedimentary basins in India. The overall budgetary cost is around US$ 700 million (INR 5000 crore) for some 50,000 line km; and responsibility for supervision of the separate surveys (as well as subsequent management of processing and interpretation) has been devolved from DGH to the state oil companies OIL (for surveys in NE India) and ONGC (for the remainder).
In a snapshot from Q3 2016, Alphageo announced that it had secured the contracts for 30,000 km out of the thus-far 42,000 km awarded to that date.

In its AR 2016-2017, Alphageo proclaims that this (the NSP contract) is the largest order awarded to any Indian seismic survey player, the largest in Alphageo’s existence and the largest global order for any seismic survey service provider (by area coverage). It claims to be the largest seismic company globally (excluding Russia and China) in terms of crews.
Other independent contractors securing minor parts of the NSP work include Advent and Asian Oilfield Services. Overall, it is clear that only Indian companies were eligible.
At the November 2017 Society of Petroleum Geophysicists meeting in Jaipur, Rajasthan, officials from the company said that 18 crews were working on the separate surveys, and that about 25% of the operational work had been completed. Alphageo’s contract with OIL, valued at around US$ 15 million (INR 102 crore) stipulates completion by March 2018; that with ONGC, valued at around US$ 228 million (INR 1,482 crore) should be completed by March 2019. Inspection of Alphageo’s map shows surveys in the following areas:
• Assam (west) — around 400km 2D acquired
• Himalayan Foreland including Karewa and Spiti-Zanskar — around 300km 2D acquired
• Vindhyan-A Narmada — around 1,000km 2D acquired
• Rajasthan — around 2,000km 2D acquired
• Cambay including Kutch and Saurashtra — around 900km 2D acquired
• Deccan Synclise North — around 1,200km 2D acquired
• Deccan Synclise South — around 600km 2D acquired

All surveys are dynamite, apart from the survey in Rajasthan which is Vibroseis. Most of Alphageo’s crews (13) are equipped with Sercel recording.
Minister Pradhan has emphasised the need for speed; indeed, the NSP had been initially mooted in the 1990s. India has not seen any major finds in new basins in 25 years, according to the DGH. The government imperative to reduce imported oil dependency by 10% by 2025 will be difficult to meet by production from as-yet untapped sedimentary basins. As a means of speeding up seismic operations, seismic companies have been granted exemption from the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 when forest clearance is not needed for operations.
Alphageo was formed in 1987 (with assistance from Alphageo Inc of Houston, TX) and is based in Hyderabad. Chairman is Z P Marshall. It is principally managed and owned (29% equity) by the Alla family (Dr Dinesh Alla, MD); after it obtained these major contracts it gained a private equity injection from Ajay Relan via his vehicle CX Partners.

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Andrew Hayman

Andrew Hayman has over 25 years experience in the upstream oil industry. He worked in seismic operations and logistics, marketing and business development for over 10 years, and helped establish West Africa as a major focus of activity. He helped to organize offshore bid rounds for the national oil companies of Cameroon and Gabon and later managed the EMEA cartography and database unit. He also has several years of experience directing Africa data collection and publication efforts. Andrew holds a B Sc in geology and chemistry, an M Sc in geochemistry (University of Leeds) and an M Sc in stratigraphy (University of London, Birkbeck College).