• Centre clarifies on reports of giving away ONGC’s Mumbai High field to private sector

    The Oil Ministry added that there is enough scope for several large and small companies to operate in the offshore and onshore basins in the country as substantial area is still available. The Centre on Monday clarified on reports of the Oil Ministry’s proposal to give away public sector behemoth ONGC’s Mumbai High field to private sector, saying that such a step “has to be done by following system and procedures in a transparent manner.”

    In an official statement, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas stated, “ONGC had conducted an internal Strategy Meet at Udaipur from 29th to 31st October 2021 for which suggestions including making a 25 years energy perspective plan, 15 years exploration plan by taking more acreages under exploration, and having partnerships for its major fields, with scope of enhancing recovery and technology infusion, were made.”

    The Centre added that while on one side, area under exploration has to be increased which would subsequently lead to more new discoveries in the country, on the other side, production from existing fields has also to be optimised and increased wherever possible by employing advanced technology, drilling more production wells, wherever technically feasible, and better management.

    “For this private sector companies can be involved as partners or through various business models so that new techniques and technology can be brought in through such companies which have experience in this. However, all this has to be done by following system and procedures in a transparent manner. ONGC has to prepare its plan and take right decisions in order to increase domestic production,” the ministry further said.

    It also added that there is enough scope for several large and small companies to operate in the offshore and onshore basins in the country as substantial area is still available. To recall, the government had decided in February 2019 that National Oil Companies (NOCs) would be free to choose field specific models, including farm out and Joint Venture (JV)/ Technical Service Model (TSM) for enhancing production from their mature and ageing fields.

    Last week, reports stated that Petroleum Secretary Tarun Kapoor had said the government is pushing ONGC to involve private sector companies and service providers wherever possible to help raise oil and gas production. Kapoor’s comments came days after the second-highest ranked official in his ministry asked Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to give away a 60 per cent stake plus operating control in India’s largest oil and gas producing fields of Mumbai High and Bassein to foreign companies.

    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. Mumbai High, which was discovered in 1974, and B&S that was put into production in 1988 are Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) mainstay assets, contributing two-thirds of its current oil and gas production. Without these assets, the company will be left with only smaller fields.

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