The government wants public sector oil explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to actively explore participation of private sector companies and other service providers in its quest to step up oil and gas production in the country and reduce dependence on imports, an official said on Thursday.
Petroleum Secretary Tarun Kapoor said that the ONGC’s production has to be increased and for that, the company has to expand its portfolio through new exploration. And in the expanded plate, he said, the company can involve the private sector that brings in the right technology required for specific exploratory fields.
His comments came after an Additional Secretary-ranked official in the Ministry, who is also on the ONGC board, in a letter, asked the ONGC to give away 60 per cent stake plus operating control in India’s largest oil and gas producing fields of Mumbai High and Bassein to foreign companies.
While Kapoor did not go into the specific case, he said any decision on the matter has to be taken by the board of the Maharatna company and the ministry can only offer its suggestions.
India is 85 per cent dependent on imports to meet its oil needs, and a way to cut the high import bill is to increase domestic production. The government has also set a target to reduce dependence on imported oil by 10 per cent over the next few years.
The ONGC’s production from its blocks either on its own or through the help of private strategic participants would hold the key to raising country oil and gas production swiftly.
Production of oil and gas by domestic companies have almost stagnated for the last decade and with earlier years’ prolific blocks now ageing, the focus is on finding new resource areas that can sustain production to meet the needs of the country for the next few decades.