There is no proposal at present to transfer India’s biggest oil and gas producer ONGC’s assets to smaller state-owned firm Oil India Ltd (OIL), Parliament was informed this week.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had earlier this year written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to consider transferring all assets of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) in the northeastern region to Oil India Ltd.
“At present, there is no proposal to transfer ONGC’s assets to OIL,” Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Rameswar Teli said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.
Sarma’s letter to the prime minister followed the oil ministry’s directive to ONGC to consider selling stakes in producing oil fields and hive off drilling and other services into a separate firm to raise production.
He had in his June 5 letter stated that both ONGC and OIL are national oil companies and hold acreage given to them on a nomination basis by the government and so, there should be “no issues in transfer of assets” from one to other.
While ONGC has operations spread across the country, OIL has almost all of its production coming from the northeastern region.
“OIL is born in Assam and has been operating there for several decades. It is felt that the operations in the entire North Eastern Region may be carried out by one major operator, preferably OIL,” Sarma had written.
This is not the first time that a proposal for OIL taking over ONGC’s assets in North East has been proposed. In 2013, OIL had stated that it was willing to takeover ONGC’s Assam oilfields should to government decide to hive them off.
ONGC produces 1.1 million tonnes of crude oil annually from the Assam fields employing over 4,000 personnel. In contrast, OIL used 6,500-odd employees to produce 3.6 million tonnes of crude oil and is projecting annual growth of 3-5 per cent. OIL’s cost of production in the North-East is under USD 7.5 per barrel, while that of ONGC is higher than that.