Call for privatisation of old oilfields

The Economic Survey has reiterated that the government should raise output by privatising the oil fields and hence reduce dependence on imported crude oil. India, which spent $48.389 billion to import its crude oil needs in 2006-07, has already spent $48.02 billion on crude imports in the first nine months of the current fiscal because of rise in international oil prices. The pre-budget survey that was tabled in Parliament, suggested selling old oil fields to private sector and for application of improved and enhanced oil recovery techniques. Besides stepping up domestic production, the remaining deficit would have to be bridged by entering into strategic geo-political alliances to access energy assets in the region, the Survey said, pointing to the need of making investments in energy chain in West Asia and Africa. Reducing incremental import dependence of the country's energy requirement requires tapping of coal reserves, accelerating exploration of oil and gas, fully exploiting the nuclear and hydro potential for power generation and expediting programmes for energy generation through renewables, the survey stated. While production from old fields declined, the award of 162 new areas for exploration under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) since 1999 have led to 46 oil and gas discoveries to add 600 million tons of oil equivalent hydrocarbon reserves. As on April 1, 2007, the investment made by Indian and foreign companies in NELP blocks was $ 3.887 billion, out of which only 30 per cent was by the national oil companies.