Quitol (South Goa): In the backdrop of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) forecast of a decline in India’s domestic oil production despite increase in investments through 2030, the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of India’s second-largest oil and gas exploration and production company Oil India Limited (OIL), Dr Ranjit Rath, told PSU Watch in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of India Energy Week (IEW). While referring to the Central government’s decision to open up 1 million square kilometres of sedimentary basin and terming India “a bright spot” in exploration of oil and gas, the OIL CMD said that this move alone will open up new vistas for offshore exploration. Commenting on OIL’s strategy for increasing its production, Dr Rath said that OIL is going to participate in future bidding rounds and increase exploratory wells in offshore areas and is also looking to acquire assets abroad, while continuing its very aggressive, production-intensive interventions in its producing fields.
OIL has 61,000 sq km of acreage spread across Assam Shelf, Assam Arakan fold belt, Rajasthan basin, Mahanadi basin, offshore areas in Andaman and Nicobar basin, Kerala Konkan basin and the KG basin.
Here are the excerpts:
At IEW, we have all global energy majors in attendance. How do you think is the India growth story in the energy sector being viewed by the world?
The number of footfalls, the richness of content, the display of success stories in the second edition of IEW speaks volumes. This is a conglomeration of not only Indian players to display their prowess, but all the stakeholders in the oil and gas value chain are here, including Indian oil companies and global oil majors and service providers. So, the kind of engagement that we are having here is immensely beneficial.
What are some of the interesting discussions that Oil India has been part of at IEW? Have any agreements been signed?
We had serious discussions on the collaborations that we intend to have with major global oil companies. We also had engaging discussions with service providers who are keen to collaborate with us and see opportunities for collaboration in our plans for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), both in terms of seismic data acquisition, processing, interpretation, re-processing of vintage data, drilling both exploratory and development wells, the workover operations that we have planned out, the various interventions that we have planned to enhance our production. So, we have had very meaningful discussions where people have evinced interest in participating in our procurement process and technology exchange. We have a technology induction programme where they have said that they want to participate and we are encouraging it.
Could you name some of the companies with which these discussions have taken place?
We have had discussions with almost all the oil majors in attendance here at IEW and it’s not right to name anybody specifically at this stage.
The IEA recently released a report about India’s oil market. They have said that despite an increase in investments, India’s domestic oil production is slated for a decline through 2030. What do you think of that assessment?
It’s too early to have a view on this because India today is a bright spot in terms of exploration. The deep and the ultra-deep waters on the East Coast and the West Coast and the Andaman and Nicobar basin within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has just been unlocked. It is about 1 million square km, which is about 1/3rd of the total sedimentary basin which is available in the country for exploration. So, while the Category I, II and III basins in India are being pursued for exploration, the offshore exploration is going to open up a new vista (because of opening of EEZ). A lot of data acquisition has already been done by the government under the National Seismic Programme. We have an exploration acreage of 60,000 square km. Going forward, we are planning to participate in the future bidding rounds and also increase our exploratory wells in offshore areas.
Even though India’s oil production is yet to register an increase, Oil India has been clocking good numbers in terms of growth in its oil and gas production.
We are actually pursuing very aggressive, production-intensive interventions. We are looking into wells which were earlier considered sick and bringing them into production. We are looking at hydraulic fracturing to enhance our production. We are looking at enhanced oil recovery as part of our production campaign. We are also looking at putting electric submersible pumps to enhance production. We are looking at new areas through near-surface exploration where we are going to drill and also discover. We have also undertaken a very successful cyclic steam stimulation initiative. So due to this overall campaign, we are getting results. We are also drilling deeper horizons to find more oil in the same mining lease.
There have been reports that Oil India is looking to return to its Libya asset after a gap of two-three years. Is that correct?
Oil India has got 10 assets abroad in seven countries. Some of them are producing assets Some of them are developing assets. Some of them are exploration assets. Barring one, at all other projects, it is the operator who decides or takes a call as far as operations are concerned. And we are invested there. So some of the projects that have been on a hiatus due to a force majeure, there are tractions that have been started. So, it will be better that the operators of these blocks make an official statement.
Are you also looking at acquiring more assets abroad?
While we are looking at collaborations with international oil companies to make India as their destination for exploration, we are also in talks to acquire assets abroad. Those discussions are at various stages.
Oil India is also looking to use its depleted fields for carbon sequestration. Tell us about your plans in this area.
Along with looking at depleted reservoirs, we are also looking at abandoned wells, which is not so successful so far to use as a pilot case for Carbon Dioxide sequestration. In the pore spaces of the reservoirs, at a depth of 2,000-metre-plus where we have adequate porosity, adequate salinity and the proximity to the source, we are studying the possibility of Carbon sequestration. Feasibility studies are underway.