India can't drill solo to meet oil supply goals, Wood Mac says

By Rajesh Kumar Singh and Debjit Chakraborty on 10/13/2017

NEW DELHI (Bloomberg) -- India needs overseas help to raise production from its aging oil fields and meet its goal of lowering crude imports by 2022, according to consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd.

The country’s exploration companies such as Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd. and Oil India Ltd. should consider partnering with overseas counterparts to boost oil recovery from their mature assets in the short term in order to reach Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of cutting imports by 10% in five years, Neal Anderson, president of Wood Mackenzie, said on Tuesday. Seeking to raise output through only new discoveries will take too long, he said.

“Opening up exploration has such a long lead time,” Anderson said. “And it will not meet the five-year timeline.”

India’s efforts to cut its reliance on crude imports, which meet more than 80% of its needs, has been complicated by a slide in domestic production as consumption  surges. To help raise its own supply, the world’s fastest-growing oil user said it wants $300 billion in investments over the next 10 years and is finalizing a new policy to encourage producers to increase output from existing fields.

Anderson said he presented his guidance of seeking foreign investment during a meeting Monday with Modi and executives from companies including BP Plc, Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Rosneft Oil Co.

To encourage investments, the government has relaxed rules by allowing pricing freedom for oil and gas and a uniform policy for extraction of all hydrocarbons under a single license. It is also planning to auction bigger areas in the next auction of discovered small fields later this year.

ONGC has a plan to enhance production from existing fields and put new fields in production quickly to help meet Modi’s goal, Ajay Kumar Dwivedi, the company’s director of exploration, said Wednesday by phone. The company is already working with overseas service companies, consultants and universities, and doesn’t intend to cede control of any of its assets.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said in June it is holding talks with ONGC and its smaller peer Oil India to help them reverse a decline in crude oil production from their aging fields.

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