State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has put its installations in the western offshore on high alert and restricted helicopter sorties as a cyclone gathers intensity over the Arabian Sea. ONGC produces bulk of India’s oil and gas from fields off the west coast, with several of its installations on these housing its operational personnel.
Sources said the company has not evacuated any of its personnel from the living quarters on the western offshore fields like Mumbai High and Bassein but has stopped helicopter sorties to wellheads.
Two emergency control rooms have been set up in Mumbai and Hazira in Gujarat to keep a close watch on the situation as it develops, they said adding helicopters and a multi-support vessel (MSV) have been kept on standby for any rescue and relief operation that may be warranted post Cyclone Vayu hits landfall. Operations are largely unaffected, they said.
A floating oil production system at D-1 field off the west coast faced power failure which is being restored. ONGC has 3-4 well drilling rigs operating in the western offshore region that falls in the path of Cyclone Vayu but no evacuation has been ordered as the intensity of the cyclone is not very severe, sources said.
The company has however taken precautions to ensure that wind speeds do not damage the rigs or tilt them. “As a standard operating procedure (SOP), helicopter sorties are restricted the moment wind speed in offshore crosses 25 knots. In the present cyclone, wind speeds of 35-50 knots are expected,” a source said.
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Cyclone Vayu, with wind speeds equivalent to those of a Category 1 hurricane, is set to cross the coast in Gujarat by Thursday morning with sustained wind speeds of 145-155 km per hour. The state government is evacuating about 3 lakh people from the most vulnerable areas into shelters.
Gujarat houses three oil refineries including the country’s biggest and has multiple ports. Reliance Industries’ twin refineries at Jamnagar and Rosneft-backed Nayara Energy’s Vadinar unit are on high alert but operations are not impacted, sources said. Unlike these two, Indian Oil Corp’s (IOC) Koyali refinery is away from the coast.
While the country’s largest port operator, Adani Ports, has activated a disaster management plan at all its assets along the Gujarat coast, including Hazira, Dahej, Tuna and Mundra ports, Sikka Ports and Terminals, which handles crude oil and refined products for Reliance, has halted vessel berthing after the cyclone warning.
Cargo operations at all ports in the Gulf of Khambat (Cambay) have been temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure.
Also, operations have been suspended at Chhara, Pipavav, Salaya, Okha, Porbandar and many other small and medium ports. Kandla port operations have been temporarily suspended and employees sent on leave, sources said.