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India pushes for oil and gas exploration

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According to the Economic Times, India is seeking to bolster its domestic production of oil and gas by making a concerted effort to explore the Andaman deep-water basin, which lies in the north-western portion of the Indian Ocean.

In the open acreage licensing rounds, India’s state-owned oil company ONGC won the rights to two blocks in the waters of the Andaman, as well as one block in the Andaman offshore area. ONGC has studied 2D seismic data for a 22,500-kilometre line that had been commissioned by the Indian government as part of its National Island Exploration Project, but it wants to consult other parties with greater experience of drilling in deep-water areas.

It has, therefore, reportedly approached Shell and ExxonMobil – which, in addition to producing crude oil, also make many popular industrial lubricant products – for their assessments, possibly with a view to participating as partners with ONGC if they express sufficient interest.

Rising oil and gas prices in recent months have provided the impetus for the Indian government to push for more exploration, so it is prepared to support ONGC by funding the drilling of three of four wells in the Andaman Sea following the monsoon season.

The government is also easing the process for acquiring clearances, something that has hindered exploration of the Andaman Sea in the past. There will be exemptions for clearances from the space and defence departments, and the mechanism for granting long-term clearances is being worked on in the event that an operator makes a substantial find.

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