Business Standard

Oil, gas exploration offers $100 bn opportunity: Hardeep Singh Puri

Oil marketing companies in talks with Russia for long-term deal, say officials

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri  | Photo: PTI

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri | Photo: PTI

Subhayan Chakraborty New Delhi

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Exploration and production (E&P) activities in India's oil and gas sector offer investment opportunities worth $100 billion by 2030, and the government is in favour of minimizing regulatory delays, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday.

Addressing an interaction between oil and gas stakeholders, organized by the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), Puri announced a new joint working group comprising representatives from private E&P operators, national oil companies, and the government aimed at improving ease of doing business in the segment. The group will submit their recommendations on the need for policy revision within the next eight weeks.

Currently, an estimated 10 per cent of India's 3.36-million-sqkm-wide sedimentary basin is under exploration. Puri said the government plans to increase this to 16 per cent by end-2024. "While this is in progress, it is not enough. The focus of our exploratory endeavours must pivot towards discovering 'Yet to Find' resources," Puri stressed.

The 10th round of bidding for oil and gas assets under the Centre's Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) is expected to commence next month, while winning bids for OALP IX will also be concurrently announced, officials had told Business Standard last week. Through the first eight bid rounds, a total of 144 blocks, covering approximately 2.44 lakh sqkm, have been awarded.

However, this is far below the government's target of India's exploration acreage of 1 million sqkm by 2030. It has already reduced the 'No-Go' areas in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone by almost 99 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Discovered Small Field (DSF) policy has garnered investments of approximately $2 billion and brought in 29 new players since its inception in 2015. "The recent Special DSF Bid Round presents fresh opportunities in Mumbai Offshore and West Bengal," Puri said.

The minister said the DGH will issue a work order within the next one month to upgrade the National Data Repository (NDR) to a cloud-based NDR, which will enable instant dissemination of seismic, well and production data. The DGH has also been directed to approve all annual work programme budgets prior to the financial year, to enable contractors to execute their activities in a time-bound manner.

It will also complete the process of integration of its various online portals by the end of the year, he added.

Meanwhile, Indian oil marketing companies (OMCs) are currently in preliminary talks with Russia for possible long-term deals to source oil and gas, senior petroleum ministry officials said. While the details will be negotiated later, the issue may have been raised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"These discussions continue to happen. We need stable and predictable relationships. However, often a company signs an agreement only to find that the spot market is offering the (same) grade of crude at a lower price," a top official said.

Russian crude made up 40 per cent of India's crude imports in May.

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First Published: Jul 11 2024 | 6:53 PM IST

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