India's ONGC to spend $9 B in the next decade for oil, natural gas production

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Jan 03, 2014 05:12 AM EST

India's largest energy exploration firm Oil & Natural Gas Corp or ONGC said it planned to spend an estimated $9 billion in the next decade to develop crude oil and natural gas found in new blocks located in India's east coast, Bloomberg reported.

In a phone interview, Director NK Verma told Bloomberg that production from the Bay of Bengal wells drilled last year is commercially viable. Three wells were drilled there. Verma said development of the new reserves will be conducted together with prior gas finds in the area, with the output set to begin in 2016.

The report said the new discoveries will ease the pressure from ONGC that has been struggling to ramp up its oil and gas production in the nation from fields that are already over thirty years old. It will also lower India's energy import bill that purchases nearly 80% of its crude oil needs abroad. Lessened production and oil sales to state refiners done below-cost have caused ONGC's profit margins to decline the lowest in 12 years. For the year ending March 31, 2013, net income margins of the energy explorer fell to 25.21%, the report said. Net income margin refers to net profit as a percentage of sales.

Verma told Bloomberg, "Indications are these discoveries have good quantities of oil. We're trying to do our best to raise production and address the criticism that we haven't been finding enough new hydrocarbons."

Verma said ONGC will provide a production plan for the combined development of oil and gas discoveries to the government within this year. The initial plan of ONGC was to begin producing gas last year from the KG 98/2 block of the Bay of Bengal. In December 2010, ONGC told the government about the discovery of the gas on the block which is close to the largest gas field in India operated by Reliance Industries Ltd.

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