New Delhi, March 9: ONGC and Oil India Ltd (OIL) have assured the government that they are capable of providing an additional 20-day cover beyond the 60-day period that the existing stocks of crude and petroleum products would last the nation in an emergency.
The country, therefore, has an 80-day petro-cushion in case of any major disruption in international oil supplies.
Petroleum ministry officials disclose that ONGC and OIL are capable of producing oil and gas to meet another 20 days’ requirement during the 60-day period that the existing stocks of petro-goods would last. This has also been factored into the contingency plan that has been drawn up to meet any extreme situation arising out of the possible outbreak of war in Iraq.
It is reliably learnt that while the 60-day figure is an average for all petroleum products, the LPG stocks would be sufficient only for 30 days. It is here that the additional cushion would come in handy as more LPG could be tapped from the domestic oil and gas output in case an emergency situation arises.
Sources disclose that the ‘fortification’ provided by the indigenous crude has been one of the reasons why the government decided on developing strategic tankage gradually in phases. Any one-time investment in such a venture would prove to be too costly. Indigenous crude production accounts for about 30 per cent of the total oil consumption. This figure has been declining over the years as there has not been any major oil find in recent years.
The government is hoping to reverse the trend with the stepped up exploration drive under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). The recent oil and gas finds in the Krishna Godavari basin in the east and Cambay in the west have given rise to some optimism.
Arrangements have also been made for imports from countries outside the war zone. India has already been buying increased quantities of oil from countries such as Nigeria and Egypt and even Malaysia in the South-East has emerged as a source of supply.
The Malaysian oil sector has been doing rather well with the national oil company, Petronas, having made some major discoveries. Indian oil companies have been doing some good business with it and made some joint investments as well.
India’s refining capacity now exceeds the domestic demand in the case of such products as petrol, diesel and aviation turbine fuel. As much as 7.1 million tonnes of petroleum products have been exported between April to December of the current fiscal. The total value of these exports has been put at Rs 6,905 crore. However, LPG is still being imported as the demand for the cooking fuel has been estimated to be growing at a high rate of 11.8 per cent this year.