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India: The Silent Revolution Pt.1

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Published: Jul 1, 2011

Project Directors: Karim Meggaro & Henrique Bezerra Project Coordinator: Federica Torgneur Project Assistant: Andrey Muntyan Prepared in collaboration with Petrofed

Refinery at night, courtesy of BPCL

India's economic growth is widely praised, and with a GDP of $4.046 trillion USD in 2010 and a GDP growth rate of 8.3% last year, it is clear why the country is making the headlines in the most positive of lights. In his latest visit to India, U.S. President Barack Obama stated that "India is not simply emerging: India has already emerged." However, before it can complete its transformation into one of the world's superpowers, India must address two big issues that are hampering its development. These are its infrastructure and energy challenges.

Despite the fact that stories of India's booming economy and emergence on the world stage shout from newsstands across the world on a daily basis, very little time is dedicated to discussing the industry that is needed to fuel this growth. However, India has taken important steps to address its energy imbalance. Indeed, it has been remarked that the transformation that has taken place in the Indian oil and gas industry over the last two decades has been a silent revolution, and today India stands as one of the most influential and important oil and gas markets in the world – and more importantly, it has reached this position without the rest of the world noticing. Focus Reports has spent some time on the Indian subcontinent in order to uncover the factors that have caused this revolution, and discover where the Indian oil and gas industry is now headed.

RPN Singh, Minister of State of Petroleum & Natural Gas

"The transformations in the Indian oil and gas industry represent a silent revolution," says S Sundareshan, outgoing secretary of the ministry of petroleum & natural gas, "because, besides allowing India to grow and improve the lives of hundreds of millions, it goes largely unnoticed. For instance, India's refining capacity jumped from 68 million tons to 185 million tons in only ten years. It is likely to increase to 240 million tons before 2012." Today, India has excess refining capacity, and as a result the country currently exports about 40 million tons per annum. When capacity is further bolstered, India will be in a position to export more than 80 million tons per annum.

However, India is the world's fourth largest oil consumer after the United States, China, and Japan, consuming around 3 million bbl/d in 2010 while producing only about 900 thousand bbl/d, making energy security one of India's major bottlenecks for its future growth.

Sunil Kumar Srivastava, director general, DGH

As a response to this, Indian policymakers have gradually liberalized India's oil and gas industry over the last 15 years in an effort to boost the country's 5.6 billion barrels of proven oil reserves (as of January 2011), the second-largest reserves in the Asia-Pacific region after China. Its main policy tool has been the New Exploration licensing Policy (NELP), which aims to provide a level playing field for all players active in E&P. Under the NELP regime, organized in rounds and starting with NELP I in 1999, 87 oil and gas discoveries have already been made in 26 exploration blocks, not counting this year's bidding round.

AK Arora, secretary general, Petrofed

The latest NELP round, NELP IX, closed in March 2011, and offered 34 exploration blocks in 10 sedimentary basins covering an area of 88,807km2. The blocks comprised 19 onshore blocks, 8 deep-water blocks and 7 shallow water blocks. 19 of these blocks were being offered for the first time to interested parties. At the close of the bidding cycle, 33 of these blocks had bids placed on them, with 10 new companies entering the Indian E&P sector for the first time, 2 foreign and 8 Indian.

Sunil K Srivastava, the director general of Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), India's upstream regulatory authority, believes the country's sound governance and stable rules have been the main ingredients in its efforts to attract more private investment to its oil and gas industry: "Reliance Industries' KG-D6 discovery took only six years to go from discovery to production; its success was not only a product of the competence of the operators but also the government's fast-tracked decisions, approvals, governance and policies. Thanks to India's sound policies, investors both domestic and international have increased their stakes in India's E&P industry."

As a result, since April 2009 India has added 2.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas production per day to its existing 2.65 billion with the start of production on the Krishna Godavari (KG) basin and specifically the KG-D6 block, the biggest natural gas discovery in the world for the year 2002.

Even so, India is aware that it is far from achieving self-sufficiency in the oil and gas sector. As a result, it has applied pragmatic policies to boost national production and import capacity; internationalize its companies and secure assets and markets overseas; and become a prominent international refining hub by importing crude oil from its Middle-Eastern neighbors and exporting refined products to new markets.




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