• Petroleum ministry strengthening its exploration division with another joint secretary

    As part of India’s efforts towards energy security, the ministry of petroleum and natural gas is strengthening its exploration division. To boost this initiative and expedite hydrocarbon exploration in the country’s sedimentary basins, the critical ministry, responsible for meeting the economy’s energy needs, has introduced an additional position of a joint secretary (JS) in the exploration division. The division already has a joint secretary-rank official.

    This comes in the backdrop of India’s stagnant hydrocarbon production. The government has made energy security one of the primary areas of focus in its economic policy in order to achieve fast and sustainable long-term development. According to a government statement on 22 August, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Ashish Chatterjee, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, as the new JS. This was done by “upgrading one vacant post of deputy secretary/director… to JS level for a period of two years”, the statement added.

    The petroleum ministry will now have six joint secretaries, including the two responsible for exploration. “He (Chatterjee) will be joining as the joint secretary in the exploration division in addition to the existing one,” said a government official requesting anonymity. India has 26 sedimentary basins roughly covering an area of 3.14 million sq. km. Of these, an estimated 75% are yet to be explored. India has total reserves of 763.476 million ton (MT) of crude oil and 1,488.73 billion cubic metre (BCM) of natural gas.

    Another government official, who also didn’t want to be identified, confirmed the development. The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has made energy security one of the cornerstones of its economic policy in order to achieve fast and sustainable long-term development. The government has set up an ambitious target to halve the country’s energy imports by 2030. Given India’s plan to reduce its import dependence, domestic production will have to step up exponentially. India currently has 310 production sharing contracts.

    Experts think it is a good move. “The exploration division has been historically weak. It will be good to expand it. There are large agendas in place such as hydrocarbon exploration and licensing policy, and the auction of small discovered fields, which need to be implemented within a short time frame or the credibility gets hampered,” said R.S. Sharma, former chairman and managing director of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd.

    Crude oil and gas production during 2014-15 was 37 MT and 34 BCM, respectively. India currently imports one-third of its energy needs and bought 202.85 MT of crude oil in financial year 2015-16 for Rs.4.16 trillion. The country is actively looking at new exploration and production opportunities to bridge the energy imbalance. Queries emailed to the spokesperson of the ministry of petroleum and natural gas on 24 August wasn’t immediately answered. The government offices are closed on 25 August.

    India’s demand for energy has been increasing. As per BP Global data, the country has emerged as the third-largest consumer of crude oil with a consumption of 4.2 million barrels per day (mbpd) for calendar year 2015, after the US (19.39 mbpd) and China (11.96 mbpd). India overtook Japan, which consumed 4.15 mbpd. Kyle Quincey Womens Jersey

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