The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) will spud (begin drilling) its first-ever well in the Palar basin at a village called Chinnapuliyur, near Gummidipoondi, about 45 km from Chennai, on Sunday.

This signals the ONGC’s stepped up efforts to find oil and gas in Tamil Nadu.

The exploratory well is to be drilled to a depth of 2,000 metres. Narenda K. Verma, Director (Exploration), ONGC, will formally spud the well.

The Palar basin is located between two hydrocarbon-producing basins in the South — the Krishna-Godavari basin in the north and the Cauvery basin to the south.

Although exploration in the Palar basin started around 40 years ago, there was not much effort, including drilling, to prospect for hydrocarbons there, ONGC officials said.

The ONGC preferred to explore and drill in the Cauvery basin, both on land and offshore, and in the Ariyalur-Puducherry sub-basin, around Bhuvanagiri in Tamil Nadu. The Palar basin has come under its ken now.

The ONGC jointly bid for this block, where it will drill at Chinnapuliyur in the Palar basin, along with Tata Petrodyne Limited (TPL) as its partner in the seventh round of the New Exploratory Licensing Policy (NELP).

The TPL holds 20 per cent stake in this block which covers an area of 1,800 sq.km. The block, called PR-ONN-2005/1, stretches into some of the areas of Chennai. The ONGC will drill a second well in the block, also near Chinnapuliyur, after the completion of the first well.