Domain experts deliberate on de-carbonization, way forward for industry at Oil & Gas World IE 2021

Experts from oil and gas industry deliberated on de-carbonization and growth in the sector on the first day of Oil & Gas World IE 2021, being organized from 25 – 27 October 2021. ONGC Director (Exploration) Rajesh Kumar Srivastava and Director (Offshore) Pankaj Kumar flagged the need to reduce dependence on energy imports and increase exploration activities, while also fueling transition to clean energy. Additional Secretary (Exploration) for the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas Amar Nath, who is also the Government Nominee Director of ONGC, and Director General of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) SCL Das also graced the virtual event with their presence. The event was also attended by the officials of various Oil and Gas organizations and institutes including ONGC.

Delivering the Chairman’s address, Director (Exploration) Rajesh Kumar Srivastava welcomed all the participants and expressed gratitude towards Petroleum Secretary Tarun Kapoor for his constant guidance and support. He said that this conference is an opportunity for professionals from upstream, downstream and midstream to interact and get value from association with each other. Noting that the conference is being organized at the right time, Mr Srivastava said that it will allow industry professionals to participate in rich discussions. He expressed confidence that through meaningful interactions during the three-day conference, stakeholders will be able to come up with innovative and useful ideas that can readily be implemented on ground to help the industry address various challenges.

Director (Exploration) RK Srivastava delivering Chairman’s address
Director (Exploration) RK Srivastava delivering Chairman’s address

Director (Exploration) said that the oil and gas industry needs to take cognizance of the issues emerging on the front of climate change and ESG (Environment, Social and Corporate Governance). He said that our industry is going to make strides in this domain. He said that oil and gas sector will be a crucial part in the transition to clean energy and will help the nation realize its clean energy goals. Mr Srivastava highlighted that India is among the top five countries in terms of renewable energy and said that the nation is well positioned to move even further.

Mr Srivastava noted that everyone needs to realize that as we move on to energy efficient systems and address energy transition issues, the issue of carbon emission will also need to be addressed. Only after we have addressed that issue will we be able to truly transition towards green energy, he said.

Speaking during a session on ‘Growth of Oil and Gas’, Director (Offshore) Pankaj Kumar said that our vision for India’s energy landscape has been spelled by the Prime Minister, to make energy sustainable and affordable for all. He said that intense research is underway by the industry to address these issues. Asserting that the energy demand is expected to grow double by 2040, Mr Kumar noted that while India is the fourth largest energy consumer, the per capital energy consumption of the nation is still among the lowest around the world. “Though there has been a slump in energy demand growth due to the pandemic. But, post pandemic, as economy grows, energy need will also grow,” he said.

Director (Offshore) Pankaj Kumar speaking during the session
Director (Offshore) Pankaj Kumar speaking during the session

Mr Kumar noted that the government has set a target to increase the share of gas in energy mix of the country in line with the initiative to lower the carbon emission. He said that India is expected to increase its domestic gas production. Talking about offshore, he said that ONGC is implementing a big development project in east coast. “Recently, ONGC came out with the Bengal Basin. However, we only have 8 producing basins out of the total of 28 sedimentary basins. We have a lot to explore.”

Director (Offshore) said that focus will be given to increase exploratory activities in India. Policy reforms have been implemented by the Government of India and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. Foreign Direct Investment has been allowed to the tune of 100 per cent in upstream and private refining. India today has a capacity of 250 million tons. We have come out with open acreage licensing policy. With this, exploratory efforts are expected to increase in the country,” he said. Mr Kumar also noted that India’s first LNG facility plant was recently launched in Nagpur of Maharashtra. Noting that the nation is making progress, he flagged that India needs to cut down on energy import sustain the economic growth.

Speaking during the inaugural session, Additional Secretary (Exploration) Amar Nath said that the high prices of energy, especially fossil fuels, are impacting the growth of the nation. He said that the dependency on energy imports is a dampener of our ambitions. “The Prime Minister has called for energy security. He has set a target for India to become energy independent when it celebrates its 100 years of independence. Initiatives towards this objective have already started taking place and everyone has started working on these action points to achieve this object,” he said.

Mr Nath noted that there is international pressure to reduce carbon emissions. He said that two new components have come in -- Digital Technology and Financing. “Financing will be difficult as the finance community has started moving away from oil and gas. Activist investors have come into the picture. When finance puts pressure on company, they will start to move away from oil and gas. Due to digital technology like social media, the society has become more aware. They are eager to move away from fossil fuels. This is fueled by recent incidents related to climate change.” He said that these are some of the things that are making the situation critical.

MoPNG Additional Secretary (Exploration) at Oil & Gas World IE 2021
MoPNG Additional Secretary (Exploration) at Oil & Gas World IE 2021

The Additional Secretary also flagged the need to reduce carbon emission in oil and gas sector. Posing some questions for the stakeholders to discuss during the conference, he asked if the upstream sector can utilize its expertise in transition to hydrogen production and creating a hydrogen era. He also asked if carbon capture can happen. “Till we have transitioned to green energy, can we capture the carbon that has been released into the atmosphere. If we can do that, it will help us resolve many of our problems.”

Speaking on the occasion, Director General of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) SCL Das said that the major locus of growth in energy demand globally is the Indian subcontinent, India, because of the growth factor and per capita energy consumption growth. In India, the economic growth and the energy growth is not incompatible with growth in oil and gas, he said. “This kind of long sustained growth which we are taking about both in economic terms and energy terms, this is going hand-in-hand with growth oil and gas. There is a huge headroom available during the transition phase,” he said.

ONGC Director (Offshore) Pankaj Kumar (top left) and DGH DG SCL Das (bottom right)
ONGC Director (Offshore) Pankaj Kumar (top left) and DGH DG SCL Das (bottom right)

Explaining, Mr Das said that if India has a target to transition to clean energy in two to three decades, the current decade will witness aggressive efforts for boosting exploration and production in the domestic front while reducing import dependency. “So, while hydrocarbon will go down in energy mix, it will still mean growth in domestic front,” he said. Mr Das said that the Prime Minister had said that the economic growth, energy growth and de-carbonization are part of a compatible harmonized agenda. He said that while India increasingly focuses on natural gas as transition fuel, with an ultimate eye on biofuels, renewables and hydrogen, during the transition there will be a focus on natural gas.

Various presentations were also delivered during the session. One of the presentations underlined the need for de-carbonization, promoting energy efficiency and electrification to reach net zero. Another presentation flagged the need to create smooth association between upstream and downstream to enable hydrogen transition.

DGH Additional Director General (Exploration) Dr C Laxma Reddy said that Indian oil industry has come a long way since the first discovery in Digboi, Assam in 1889. Underlining the importance of the sector, he said that the growth of Indian economy and the growth of upstream industry has always moved hand-in-hand and sustained efforts of the Indian upstream industry have resulted in the discovery of nearly 900 oil and gas fields. Independent India witnessed exploration activities in sedimentary basins by newly created national oil companies like ONGC and Oil India Limited, which opened various petroliferous basins across the country, he said. He said that this spectacular achievement by national oil companies cannot be ignored as it brought India on world oil map.

DGH Additional Director General (Exploration) speaking (bottom right)
DGH Additional Director General (Exploration) speaking (bottom right)

Oil & Gas World IE 2021 Convener and former ONGC Director (Onshore) SK Moitra said that there is an urgent need to decrease carbon emission. He said that it will be difficult to meet the net zero carbon emission target given the rising energy needs of the nation. He said that the nation needs to explore all the options and initialize clean energy initiative. “We need to adopt latest technology to enable energy transition,” he said and expressed confidence that the deliberations will lead to some productive outcomes. Oil India limited Director (Operations) Pankaj Kumar Goswami said that India is expected to witness the largest increase in energy demand than any other country. He also underlined the need to control carbon emission.