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Mumbai, Sept 21 Mr Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, does little in half measures.

He had not interacted with the media for at least two years, yet the Chairman of the country’s largest private sector company made up for the hiatus by spending most of Sunday with scores of journalists from across the country.

Mr Ambani was profusely apologetic for spoiling their Sunday. He had thought he would use the interaction to announce to world the first flow of oil from the company’s oil and gas field in the Krishna-Godavari basin, but he was pre-empted by a leak of that news a couple of days ago. So, he was left to explain the significance of the “historic day” for India. He did so with the same passion and commitment that has brought the first commercial quantities of oil flowing from a field just six years after gas was first discovered.

Robots-run factory

He claimed it was the fastest exploration and production effort in any deep water basin in the world. The global average is about nine years, he said, quoting a Goldman Sachs study.

What there is is a huge factory set up on the sea bed 7,000-8,000 feet under water, at temperatures close to freezing, run entirely with robots.

It was “world class expertise that Reliance had developed from scratch,” he said.

He said the production of oil and gas from the Krishna basin meant a lot for India’s energy security. He explained that within the next year-and-a-half, his company would be producing the equivalent of 550,000 barrels of oil a day increasing the domestic petroleum output of 1.3 million barrels a day by over 40 per cent, thereby reducing the need to import oil.

Gas, fuel of the future

The country paid $56 billion last year for imported oil. Mr Ambani said preliminary studies had indicated that the Cauvery and the Mahanadi basins also bore immense potential.

“We are more blessed with gas than oil,” he said. “That is a huge advantage because gas is the fuel of the 21st century, it being environment friendly.”

Alluding to the telecom model that he said had empowered the country, he said that in a matter of months, natural gas can be piped into millions of homes as cooking fuel. It would obviate the need for cylinders to be carried around, and it would be cheaper for consumers, the equivalent of Rs 116 a cylinder. The current price ranges from Rs 304 to 352.

Related Stories:
KG basin gas to cost 1/5th of crude oil: Mukesh Ambani
‘Reliance KG fields may go on stream by Aug’
Reliance Industries: Refining to the fore

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 22, 2008)
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