India's oil, gas exploration offers USD 100 bn opportunity: Hardeep Singh Puri

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Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri speaking at the Urja Varta conference on Thursday

Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri speaking at the Urja Varta conference on Thursday

New Delhi:Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday called for stepping up oil and gas hunt to cut India's reliance on imports and making available fuel at an affordable and sustainable way.

Speaking at the Urja Varta conference, he said the exploration and production (E&P) sector is integral in the journey towards energy self-sufficiency, which is critical for sustained economic growth.

"E&P offers investment opportunities worth USD 100 billion by 2030," he said.

Stating that India's exploration and production potential still lies untapped, he said, "I find it strange that India is so heavily reliant on oil imports despite the abundant geological resources available to us." The Indian sedimentary basins hold about 651.8 million tonnes of crude oil and 1138.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas, he said.

Puri said only 10 per cent of our sedimentary basin area is under exploration, which will rise to 16 per cent by 2024-end after the current bid ends.

"The focus of our exploratory endeavours must pivot towards discovering 'Yet to Find' resources," he said.

India imports over 85 per cent of its crude oil needs. Crude oil is converted into fuels like petrol and diesel in refineries.

"The government is doing its part to catalyse investments in E&P. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) has instituted sweeping reforms, empowering stakeholders to contribute to our nation's progress," he said, adding "We intend to increase India's exploration acreage to 1 million sq. km. by 2030." The minister said since its inception in 2015, the Discovered Small Field (DSF) Policy has garnered investments of approximately USD 2 billion and brought in 29 new players in the field.

"The opening up of the erstwhile no-go areas has paved the way for exploration activities in previously restricted zones, fostering investments, notably in regions such as the Andamans," he said.

Puri announced formation of a Joint Working Group (JWG), comprising representatives from private E&P operators, the National Oil Companies, MoPNG, and DGH to examine issues relating to the ease of doing business in E&P, adequacy of policies and procedures, and the need for their revision.

"It will submit its recommendations within eight weeks," he added.