After supermajors ExxonMobil and Chevron, French multinational TotalEnergies has signed a preliminary pact to look at opportunities to explore oil and gas in state-owned ONGC's Mahanadi and Andaman acreage.

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with TotalEnergies "to establish a holistic framework between the two for exchange of each other's technical strengths in deepwater offshore, especially Mahanadi and Andaman," the state-owned firm said in a tweet.

With production declining from ageing and mature fields and no major oil and gas discovery being made in recent times, ONGC is tapping technologically superior overseas firms. It hopes to use its expertise to open difficult reservoirs and boost output.

In August last year, ONGC had inked an agreement with US giant ExxonMobil to jointly work on deep-water exploration plans off the country's east and west coasts.

A month later it signed an MoU with Chevron New Ventures PTE Ltd, a subsidiary of California-based energy major Chevron Corporation, to assess exploration potential in India.

The initial pacts have so far not translated into a commercial partnership for any block.

The collaboration with TotalEnergies "shall lead to deployment of best practices and technology in offshore, to reduce greenhouse emissions for sustainable development," ONGC said in another tweet.

This strategic technology-driven collaboration will develop future cooperation for potential business in Deepwaters of the Bay of Bengal on mutually aligned purposes, it said.

"We will jointly evaluate exploration and development opportunities to create synergies with local economies," said ONGC Director (Exploration) Sushma Rawat.

Deep-water exploration

With ExxonMobil, ONGC in August 2022 signed a Heads of Agreement (HoA) for deep-water exploration in the country.

"The collaboration areas focus on the Krishna Godavari and Cauvery basins in the eastern offshore and the Kutch-Mumbai region in the western offshore," the company had said then.

ONGC has a licence to explore and produce oil and gas from multiple offshore areas and has significant plans for carrying out deep-water exploration, primarily focused on the gas-rich Krishna Godavari, Mahanadi and Andaman basins.

It has been on the lookout for international partners to carry out exploration in deep water and other blocks offshore the country's eastern and western coasts.

With Chevron, ONGC had in September signed an MoU for a "deeper technical collaboration."

The strategic collaborations are a part of ONGC's international outreach programme of inviting global exploration and production (E&P) companies for a suitable partnership to explore the frontier areas and geologically challenging and difficult plays, the company said.