New Delhi/Mumbai: India’s government says the country’s west coast could have as much oil and gas reserves as its east coast, where significant gas strikes have been made in the past few years.
“There is a huge potential for hydrocarbon reserves on the west coast. Preliminary surveys show that India’s west coast has the equivalent amount of hydrocarbon reserves as that of in the east coast,” said V.K. Sibal, director, Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), the government agency that ratifies finds.
Companies such as Reliance Industries Ltd and Gujarat State Petroleum Corp. have made significant strikes on the east coast. These companies now expect to be able to do this on the west coast, too, Sibal said.
Digging deep: ONGC’s oil drilling platform at Bombay High. ‘The west coast was always an attractive destination with resources like Bombay High. We will be looking at all possibilities,’ says U.N. Bose of ONGC.
“Indications of speculative surveys of RIL, Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) and GSPC also indicate the same. These companies are expected to bid aggressively for west coast reserves,” he added.
However, oil analysts do not agree with Sibal’s assessment.
“It is a very debatable thing. We are not so sure (about the west coast having as much gas and oil as the east coast),” said a Delhi-based analyst, who did not wish to be identified.
“Assuming that this is correct, it would greatly help in meeting the huge demand for oil and gas in India,” the analyst added.
Sibal’s comments come before the award of exploration blocks in the seventh round of the government’s new exploration licensing policy (Nelp-7); these blocks cover an area of 171,000 sq. km. The government has put up 57 blocks for bids from firms seeking to prospect for oil and gas at an initial estimated investment of $3.5 billion (Rs13, 895 crore). Among the 57 are blocks in the Gujarat-Saurashtra belt, Mumbai and the Kerala-Konkan region—all on the west coast.
“The west coast was always an attractive destination with resources like Bombay High. We will be looking at all possibilities,” said U.N. Bose, director, technical services, ONGC.
India’s hydrocarbon reserves of 28-32 billion tonnes are spread over 3.14 million sq. km and 26 basins. Of this, only around 30% of the area has been explored.
Analysts say energy security is a key to India’s ability to sustain growth in an economy that expanded by 9.4% last year and could grow by more than 8% this year. They added that exploration efforts, if successful, could decrease the outgo of foreign exchange. India’s consumption of petroleum products is around 114 million tonnes (mt) per annum and is expected to touch the 142mt per annum mark by 2012.