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ONGC Director (Exploration) Rajesh Kumar Srivastava and Director (Onshore) Anurag Sharma, with key executives and experts from the industry, ministry and Directorate General of Hydrocarbon engaged in enriched series of sessions at the Day 1 of Upstream Ahead Summit on 11 February 2021. The first edition of the summit organized under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) and Directorate General of Hydrocarbon (DGH) was aimed at setting a roadmap for oil and gas production and exploration towards Vision 2050.

The first day of the two-day session witnessed powerful solution-based dialogues. Key stakeholders from both the ministry and industry came together to discuss issues, challenges and roadblocks, with an aim to find a way forward to ensure India’s energy dominance in the coming decades.


Deliberations were made in varied range of issues like Policies and regulations in emerging business environment, exploration opportunities and challenges, production challenges, optimization of mature fields and monetization of discoveries, Collaborations, Hydrocarbon resource potential, digital transformation in E&P sector.

Vision 2050

The Upstream Ahead summit is aimed at bringing together E&P operators, government regulators, ministry officials and investors, to discuss crucial issues pertaining to the Indian oil & gas sector and the way forward towards ‘Vision 2050’. MoPNG Secretary Tarun Kapoor stated that the more and more companies should come in this sector to leverage the immense possibilities here.

MoPNG Secretary Tarun Kapoor delivering the inaugural address
MoPNG Secretary Tarun Kapoor delivering the inaugural address

Joint Secretary (Exploration) MoPNG Amar Nath noted that 2050 is a benchmark year in various aspects like climate change, business transitions across the globe. To implement long term vision, short and medium term milestones should be met,” said Mr Amar Nath.

DG DGH SCL Das said that India is rapidly moving towards being a 5 trillion dollar economy and the per capita energy consumption is also going up. Mr Das said the key areas of growth include consolidation of the future in adaptive and sustainable manner.

DG DGH SCL Das speaking at the inaugural session
DG DGH SCL Das speaking at the inaugural session

“The oil & gas business has big stakes in overall growth of the country. We should be clear with a vision for the next three decades and make adaptive changes aligning with the global climate change. While we have short term plans with Vision 2025, we need to brainstorm ideas to have a clear roadmap with long-term perspective towards Vision 2050,” said Mr Das.

Policies & Regulations in emerging business environment

Over the recent policies and regulations introduced by the government, ONGC Director (Exploration) R K Srivastava noted that various kinds of approaches have been taken at the government level to expedite ease of doing business. He asserted that exploration will revive with new policies in a cost effective manner.

ONGC Director (Exploration) RK Srivastava deliberating on Exploration challenges and opportunities
ONGC Director (Exploration) RK Srivastava deliberating on Exploration challenges and opportunities

“Government is walking the extra mile in this regard, by also forming a committee dedicated towards the issue with members from the industry to recommend on formulation of policy changes. Need of the hour is convergence on key imperatives like policy changes, challenges, opportunities, etc.” said Mr Srivastava.

Speaking on the Support Required for Stimulating Deep Water Exploration at the spotlight session on Policies and Regulations, ED-Basin Manager of Manager KG PG Basin R K Dhasmana mentioned that better fiscal/policy regimes and ease of doing business are the controllable and doable variables. He added, “Focus should be on improving knowledge base for investor to evolve a confident risk-reward perception.

“For knowledge building, government worked hard on resource re-assessment, national seismic program, drilling of parametric well, etc. Also, in recent past, the industry recommended 13-14 policy changes to the government; most of which are already addressed to,” said Mr Dhasmana.

KG-PG Basin Manager RK Dhasmana speaking on Support Required for Stimulating Deep Water Exploration
KG-PG Basin Manager RK Dhasmana speaking on Support Required for Stimulating Deep Water Exploration

Mr Dhasmana further noted that the year 2019 has been transformational with a shift from ‘Revenue Primacy’ to ‘Enhanced Production Primacy’ by the government. He said that the year also holds importance as complete marketing and pricing freedom for oil and gas was provided.

Joint Secretary (Exploration) Amar Nath highlighted that the recent government E&P policies are transformational; like OALP – offering investors to choose where to invest, National Data Repository, Ease of doing business, etc.

Hydrocarbon Resource Potential

Speaking on achieving the reassessed hydrocarbon resource potential, Chief Exploration and Development of ONGC CSV Sandilya noted that India is the 3rd largest consumer of primary energy and the 2018-2050 forecast reflects more than 100% growth in primary energy at 2.5 – 3%. He said that the renewables will be taking the center stage in the country’s energy future and the life of oil & gas is slowly diminishing.

Stating that several areas have not been explored yet, he asserted that there is huge potential at areas like Cauvery, Rajasthan, Assam and Assam Arakam, etc. Chief E&D presented key data on availability of open acreage area with Basin boundary, availability of open acreage area, hydrocarbon resource growth, hydrocarbon resource distribution, etc.

ONGC Chief E&D CSV Sandilya speaking on achieving Reassessed Hydrocarbon Resource Potential
ONGC Chief E&D CSV Sandilya speaking on achieving Reassessed Hydrocarbon Resource Potential

He said that the key challenges being faced by the industry include realizing the YTF hydrocarbons from category I Basins, difficulty in exploration, logistic complications, etc. Challenges in investment in exploration in Category I and II basins include, unknown PSEs, scanty data, geologically either older or very younger basins. Other challenges include non-availability of fit to purpose technologies and R&D, environmental and socio political issues, etc.

However, Mr Sandilya asserted that there are silver linings too, in opportunities like availability of vase less explored areas & increasing demand on energy, rapid technological advancements, application of AI, ML to geoscience, policy framework, etc. He mentioned that the key enablers are play based exploration, improved seismic imaging, enhanced use of non-seismic technologies, digitalization, big data & AI, and robotics & automation.

Optimizing Mature Fields

On the maiden day of the summit, Head ONGC Institute of Reservoir Studies (IRS) O N Gyani deliberated on key aspects towards optimizing mature fields production and monetization of discoveries. Mr Gyani said that mature field brings in the conception that the production must be declined; however, he asserted that all companies in the industry are focused to reduce declination.

Head IRS noted that the focus should be on the basics to recover production from mature fields. He spoke elaborately on the concept of mature fields including time period, purpose, production, economy, etc. “We have 30-40 years of knowledge on mature fields, which we need to encash and maintain or improve production,” said Mr Gyani.

Head IRS ONGC ON Gyani deliberating on Optimizing Mature Fields Production and Monetization of Discoveries

Speaking on the key challenges with mature fields Mr Gyani mentioned liquid decline, optimization of artificial lift system, water management, aging and inadequate surface facilities, locating bypassed oil, increasing operating cost, depleting reservoir energy, etc. He suggested that to facilitate the monetization process in case of economic hurdle, an empowered body may be constituted.

Stimulating Deep Water Exploration

Speaking on support required for stimulating Deep Water Exploration, Mr Dhasmana said that while India is a land of vast exploration and production opportunities, viability of deep water from economic perspective is challenging. Through an informative presentation Mr Dhasmana spoke on deep water exploration in the country so far and its future. He noted that 84 blocks under NELP has been offered to deep water.

“Level of exploration potential of deep water is cost-intensive and technology-intensive. Past production has come mostly from tertiary basins like Mumbai, Cambay, Assam, etc. Deep water remains the next frontier with high potential. For Indian E&P industry to sustain Deep water areas will have to be kept on focus and investors need to be kept interested in deep water exploration and production,” said Mr Dhasmana.

Mr Dhasmana further stated that investment drivers include Geological prospectivity, fiscal environment, ease of doing business and geopolitical context. “We at best have moderate prospective, but the government is proactive and supportive and is ready for all positive changes that improve the investment climate,” he said.

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) & Improved Oil Recovery (IOR)

Asserting that EOR will result in huge benefit, ONGC Director (Onshore) Anurag Sharma said, “we have to patient with EOR implementation and its results.”

Director (Onshore) Anurag Sharma during the session on Production Challenges - Conventional and Unconventional Hydrocarbons
Director (Onshore) Anurag Sharma during the session on Production Challenges - Conventional and Unconventional Hydrocarbons

Speaking on EOR screening and its road ahead, Mr Gyani mentioned that 53 onshore and 1 offshore reservoirs has been selected for EOR application after detailed screening of 211 fields. He informed that, in Phase 1, 22 reservoirs have been selected for EOR application and the report of all has been submitted to the DGH. In Phase 2, he said, that the remaining 32 reservoirs will be taken up for EOR application, based on the results of Phase 1.

He said that IOR project incentive criteria for oil should be recovery beyond 40% and for Gas should be recovery beyond 60%, instead of the present 60% and 80% respectively. He urged that the fields where EOR pilots concluded before the Policy notification may be considered for incentive for commercial application.

He said that EOR pilot is necessary but not to be made mandatory; all the EOR pilots are economically non-viable and incentivizing pilots may be considered. He suggested that the EOR schemes approved before the policy notification but not implemented may be considered for incentive.

Technology Induction and Collaborations

During the various enriched sessions at the summit, delegations from both the ministry and the industry univocally stated that the Vision 2050 can only be achieved if all stakeholders work collaboratively and focus on the induction of advanced technologies for enhanced production and exploration.

Director (Exploration) R K Srivastava emphasized that the need of the hour is convergence on key imperatives like policy changes, challenges, opportunities, etc. “There had been several disruptions in the recent past and production has also been affected but we need to transform challenges into opportunities. While we speak of data availability to all, we need to expand our horizon to make centralized multi-client data collaborations to the government,” said Mr Srivastava.

ONGC Director (Onshore) Anurag Sharma also stressed on the need to focus on technology induction while working on increased production.

Secretary MoPNG Tarun Kapoor said that the set targets can only be achieved if all stakeholders come together and work along with the government and contribute. Mr Kapoor noted that domestic and national companies should grow with technological advancement, while better technology is required for smooth analysis of data.

Joint Secretary (Exploration) MoPNG Amar Nath asserted that use of advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, big data analysis, etc. has already been discussed of and in way for implementation.

Joint Secretary (Exploration) Amar Nath addressing the august gathering
Joint Secretary (Exploration) Amar Nath addressing the august gathering

Director General DGH SCL Das noted that technology and cost-effective recovery factors should be matched with global level. Rooting for high pace digitalization, Mr Das said that the focus should be on resource conversion with advanced data analysis and converting resources to re-convertibles. He highlighted that innovative business models must evolve in more qualitative manner with more efforts.

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