New Delhi: The government on Wednesday asked state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd to appraise the hydrocarbon potential of hitherto unexplored sedimentary basins spread across 23 states, accounting for about half of the total acreage in the country with possible fossil fuel resources.

The appraisal programme was launched by oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan in Odisha’s Baleswar district, part of the Mahanadi basin, where the national seismic programme will commence. Appraisal of the resource potential of the country’s sedimentary basins with no or scanty data is meant to add to the petroleum mining leases available for auctioning. The government has been making efforts to attract investments into the oil and gas industry to improve output and reduce import dependence.

The seismic study and quantification of the resource potential will be followed by exploratory drilling, said an executive with one of the firms undertaking the survey, declining to be named.

The ministry statement said that while ONGC has been assigned to carry out a seismic study of the on-land part of 26 sedimentary basins in 18 states and Union territories including Odisha’s Mahanadi basin, Oil India has been assigned to carry out study of the basins in Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. The project will be completed by March 2019, it said.

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