ONGC Unveils Major Gas Discoveries in Mahanadi Basin, Bolstering India’s Energy Security

ONGC Unveils Major Gas Discoveries in Mahanadi Basin, Bolstering India’s Energy Security

In a significant boost to India’s energy security endeavors, the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has uncovered two noteworthy natural gas reserves in the Mahanadi basin block located in the Bay of Bengal. This marks a successful foray into high-risk deep-water exploration for the company.

The discoveries were made by the Maharatna company in the block MN-DWHP-2018/1, secured during the third round of auction under the open acreage licensing policy in 2019, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the situation. Notably, these findings were located in an area previously designated as a ‘no-go’ zone due to national security concerns.

The first discovery, named Utkal, is situated at a water depth of 714 meters and exhibited a gas flow of over 300,000 cubic meters per day during initial testing. The second discovery is at a deeper water depth of 1,110 meters.

ONGC has reported these discoveries to the upstream regulator Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) and is currently conducting assessments of pool size and commercial viability.

This breakthrough is poised to significantly enhance India’s energy security, particularly given that the country presently imports nearly half of its gas requirements. As part of its energy strategy, India aims to increase the contribution of natural gas to its energy mix from the current 6.3 percent to 15 percent by 2030, and increased domestic production will play a crucial role in achieving this target.

The utilization of natural gas is pivotal for India’s transition away from carbon-intensive fuels, aligning with its commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. Natural gas, with its lower carbon footprint compared to fossil fuels, is used for electricity generation, fertilizer production, as well as being converted into compressed natural gas (CNG) for automobiles and piped to households for cooking purposes. The shift towards greater use of natural gas is expected to replace coal in power generation and liquid fuels in industries.

This milestone became possible after the government lifted restrictions on almost 100,000 square kilometers of the previously restricted area for oil and gas exploration and production. Previously categorized as ‘no-gas’ areas due to their interference with missile testing or satellite launch routes, the removal of restrictions in 2022 opened up opportunities for energy companies to explore and extract oil and gas resources.