Colombo: India will be a key player in the Sri Lankan oil and gas exploration in the Cauvery Bay of the Gulf of Mannar which is set to begin in March next year.
As many as 18 oil and 11 gas reserves have been identified on the Indian side of Cauvery Bay and exploration will begin in March next year, Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa told reporters.
Experts estimate the sites may contain millions of barrels of crude oil for which both India and China are competing for overseas oil and gas reserves to meet soaring energy demand.
The global arm of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, OVL Ltd, paid $1 million to Norwegian seismic survey group, TGS NOPE, a few weeks ago for acquiring data in the Mannar Offshore Basin in Sri Lanka, say Sri Lankan petroleum ministry officials.
The Mannar Basin, located between south-western Sri Lanka and the Indian coastline in water depths ranging from 50 metres to more than 3,000 metres, lies to the south of Cauvery Basin in Indian waters, which is known for both oil and gas production.
Sri Lanka currently relies on imports to meet its entire crude demand of 42,000 barrels a day and 50% of its products demand of 70,000 barrels.
Sri Lanka had offered OVL 5,000-6,000 sq km of exploration area in the Mannar Offshore Basin on nomination basis. This is in lieu of assistance in training their professionals and assisting them in demarcation of the exploration and production (E&P) blocks.
One block was also offered to China on nomination basis. Sri Lanka has eight exploration blocks in the Mannar basin, three of which are up for tender and one each already offered to China and India. A decision on the other blocks will be taken later.