Cabinet panel to take up pending approvals for 40 offshore blocks

Our Bureau Hyderabad | Updated on January 27, 2013 Published on January 27, 2013

(from left) M. Veerappa Moily , Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas , N. Kiran Kumar Reddy , Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh , Panabaka Lakshmi , Minister of State ( Petroleum and Natural Gas ) , G.S. Rao , Minister for Infrastructure and Ports , AP and Sudhir Vasudeva , Chairman , ONGC at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the ONGC Green Building Centre in Hyderabad on Sunday , that will house the Oil Data Processing Centre . Seen behind on the screen is a model of the building . -- PHOTO: P_V_SIVAKUMAR

Moily lays foundation stone for ONGC data centre

The newly-set up Cabinet Committee on Investments will take up the pending approvals for 40 offshore exploration blocks, which are hanging fire due to objections of the Defence Ministry, at its next meeting on January 30.

Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Veerappa Moily told mediapersons here that the Ministry was keen on fast-tracking the approvals for these blocks, with investors, both Indian and foreign, already having pumped in an investment $13 billion on these assets.

He was in the city to lay the foundation stone for a green building for ONGC, which will become a data processing centre-cum-training centre. It is being constructed at a cost of Rs 175 crore.

Shale gas, CBM

Although production sharing contracts have been signed by both foreign and Indian investors, these blocks could not take off due to Defence and environment objections.

Moily said the Ministry will be putting before the Cabinet its shale gas policy in the next 15 to 20 days.

“There is immense potential to be unleashed in this (shale gas) sector, which would help India achieve self-sufficiency in energy by 2030,” he said.

Shale gas or natural gas is the gas that is trapped in sedimentary rocks below the earth’s surface. This natural resource is said to be available in six basins in India, including Cambay, Assam-Arakan, KG onshore and Cauvery onshore basins.

The Ministry is also working on a new coal-bed methane policy. “There is a CBM policy introduced in 1997, but it has become outdated. We are revising this policy to suit present conditions, which we will discuss with the Coal Ministry,” Moily said.

He has set a target for his Ministry to achieve 50 per cent self-sufficiency in energy by 2020, 75 per cent by 2025 and become self-reliance by 2030. “Shale gas and CBM will form significant part of this mission,” he said.

Uniform gas pricing

The Ministry is also working on a policy that would bring about parity between imported and domestic gas prices.

“We are working towards a uniform gas pricing policy,” the Minister said, without giving a time schedule for the uniform gas pricing policy.

Oil companies, including Reliance and British Petroleum’s Indian subsidiary, have been demanding price parity between imported and domestic gas.

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Published on January 27, 2013
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