| Ajoya Nanda Barthakur, head of OIL NEF project geosciences division, speaks during the NICT session in Guwahati on Friday. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati, Sept. 6: The Northeast could hold the key to reduction of the country’s dependence on imported crude oil, as there is massive potential for sustainable hydrocarbon exploration in the region, according to an expert in the field.
Oil India Limited NEF project geosciences division head Ajoya Nanda Barthakur revealed this while speaking at the last discussion session of the day — Doing Business in the Northeast: Perspectives from the Experts — at the Northeast Information and Communication Technology (NICT, 2013) conference and exhibition here today.
Barthakur said around 20 per cent of the category I sedimentary basins lay in the Northeast and out of the 34 per cent poorly explored or unexplored sedimentary basins in India, a major portion lay in the region. He said despite the Northeast having huge potential, it contributed only around 13 per cent of the national hydrocarbon production. “We can repeat the 1889 Digboi discovery; but in a much bigger way.”
Speaking on OIL’s upstream business in Mizoram, he said there was tremendous potential, backed by a stable government and a favourable business environment. He said the company’s prime objective was to bring Mizoram on the map of significant hydrocarbon producers in the world and was taking all steps in that direction.
He said ONGC’s gas discovery in the state (Block-AA-ONN-2001/2) had provided a major boost to the business in Mizoram.
On the country’s rising oil import bill, Barthakur said during 2011-12, it was around Rs 6,72,220 crore, which had increased to around Rs 7,25,000 crore in 2012-13. India is the fifth largest crude importer in the world. “With the increase in the crude oil price and hike in domestic consumption by around 6 per cent, the crude oil import bill for 2013-14 will also increase drastically. It is of paramount importance that adequate measures are taken for increasing domestic production to reduce imports,” he said.
OIL general manager H.C. Das said they had carried out a study to assess the potential of shale hydrocarbons in its operational areas in Assam and Rajasthan. He said the government policy on shale gas resources was in a draft stage now.
Kaziranga University vice-president Anil Saraf spoke on the challenges of doing business in the Northeast, while Indian Angel Network president Padmaja Ruparel said their organisation was starting operations in Assam.
Earlier, in the session Connectivity: The Path to Smart Cities, Subrata Das, industry director, public services, SAP India, said the North-east was “up there” in the leadership quadrant when it came to human and social capital.
“The strength of the region lies in its human and social capital, though it will confront issues such as water and power scarcity. So, the Northeast has to capitalise on its strengths, as it strives to move ahead in the path of development,” Das said, while underscoring the need for smarter economies and the need to make them attractive for investors.
“SAP’s vision for a best run government includes parameters such as good governance, empowered officials, engaged communities, innovative services and safety. There is also a need for goal-oriented planning,” he said.
On disaster preparedness, he said, “Communities in both urban and rural areas have to be prepared to cope with disasters. There is a need to identify communities at risk and set up emergency operation centres that are GIS-integrated. Then again, impact assessment and response, too, have to be taken into account.”
In his concluding remarks, Das said, “The Northeast needs to leapfrog towards development by taking advantage of its human and social capital, apart from using advancements in the telecom sector. Urban matters, and it is time for concepts that help cities run better.”
PricewaterhouseCoopers India executive director and regional managing partner (east) Debdas Sen chaired the session.