The Association of Scientific and Technical Officers of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India has moved against a proposal to privatise one of the country's biggest oil fields in order to boost domestic output after a recent energy crisis. The association, which represents 17,000 officers at ONGC has demanded it be given a more level playing field than simply handed over to private companies.
The union has Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri against a proposal put by Amar Nath, additional secretary (exploration) in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, for giving away 60 per cent stake and operatorship of Mumbai High and Bassein & Satellite (B&S) offshore assets to international partners for raising output.
This was tantamount to handing over established energy fields "on a platter" since private corporations were not willing tot ake the risk of drilling in new areas since oil prices plummeted, the petition claims. ONGC has pointed out its track record of improving oil production and drilling in new areas ever since the exit of Shell and BG, where it produced more than the expected profile of results.
"Despite the impact of COVID-19, ONGC has been able to maintain the production levels as envisaged in the annual plans. Mumbai high has been producing since 1976 and has been the cornerstone of the country's oil production. Bassein and Satellite have been the frontrunner for gas since 1987," the union wrote. "ONGC has been optimally producing from these fields keeping into consideration the health of the reservoir," it noted. With time, ONGC has also accreted reserves in these fields and has enhanced the recovery factor."
Instead of handing over such a large stake in government assets, the union has proposed certain changes in the way it functions, such as reviewing price fixations to make production from smaller oil fields viable and allowing the ONGC to market small pools of natural gas when found which it cannot do now. It has also suggested that the government take a look at shortening the bureaucratic process withIn the ONGC which will allow it to take faster decisions.
The union sought permission for a personal meeting with the minister to discuss ramping up domestic production.