Hyderabad: Oil drilling exercises have now spread to the Guntur and Prakasam coasts from the Krishna and Godavari districts of the KG Basin stretch. Cairn India Limited has sought for environmental clearances for drilling of exploratory oil wells from the Union environment ministry.
The preliminary estimate of the cost of each exploration well in shallow waters is Rs 331 crore and the initial exploration drilling may include drilling up to four such wells.
The study sphere comprises offshore areas within the block and immediate onshore areas along the block, which include portions of the Krishna wildlife sanctuary, Nizampatnam port and important towns and villages like Chirala, Vetapalem, Bapatla, Chinnaganjam and Karlapalem.
Cairn India has conducted reconnaissance field surveys and investigations including ecological and socio-economic survey. The major coastal towns near the block are Chinna Ganjam, Vetapalem and Chirala in Prakasam district and Bapatla and Nizampatam in Guntur district.
Although the KG-OSN-2009/3 block is located entirely offshore, a part of the block falls within the 10 km radius of the Krishna wildlife sanctuary that hosts the endangered fishing cat. The offshore area also has two species of whales and four species of sea turtles designated by the International Union of Conservation of Nature as endangered.
The Krishna wildlife sanctuary is an onshore protected area. Cairn India wants to carry out exploration in the block in two phases. Phase 1 involves drilling up to 55 exploration and appraisal wells, which will entail exploration of hydrocarbons in leads and prospects outside the 10 km radius around the boundary of the Krishna WLS.
According to the Environment Impact Assessment Report submitted to the ministry for drilling of “Exploratory & Appraisal Wells in KG-OSN-2009/3 Block in Offshore KG Basin in Guntur and Prakasam districts”, a copy of which is available with this newspaper, a part of the block along its eastern boundary touches the boundary limits of the Sanctuary.
The report stated, “The onshore area has rich agricultural lands. Fishing is an important economic activity undertaken.”
Wildlife clearance is not required as Phase-I does not involve any activity in areas within 10 km radius of the Sanctuary.
Location: Andhra Pradesh