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ONGC eyes Bihar for oil exploration

February 15, 2007 11:12 IST

Bihar is now poised to emerge as one of India's next major destinations for oil and natural gas reserves.

After British exploration giant Cairn Energy Search Ltd, it is now the turn of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation to start exploration for crude reserves in the economically backward state.

Speaking to Business Standard on Tuesday, the state's Energy Minister Brijendra Prasad Yadav said ONGC would shortly seek a no-objection-certificate for exploration of crude oil reserves in the Purnia basin.

"We are eager to grant the NOC to ONGC. There would be no delay in granting it as the bureaucratic system in the state is now all prepared to complete the necessary paper work fast," said the minister.

"We are ready to provide them support for the project to go through smoothly," he added.

Yadav said there is a "huge possibility" of the presence of large quantities of petroleum and natural gas reserves in the eastern district of Purnia.

"A survey conducted by the directorate of hydro-carbon a few years back had left enough indications about the bountiful reserves in the district. We are hopeful about the ONGC exploration. If it proves fruitful, the state would witness a major turnaround," he said.

Two months back, the Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy was commissioned for the first phase of exploration of a 15,500 sq km area in Bihar's Ganga basin. Cairn Energy has been granted a seven-year licence for the Purnia basin comprising 13 districts.

The company's proposal, submitted two years back, was delayed due to various technical reasons. "It had to be cleared by the Ministry of Defence, the Geological Survey of India and the Atomic Energy Department," said Yadav.

"Cairn's aero-magnetic survey of the identified areas under the order of the central government has already pointed towards the presence of oil reserves in the basin. Cairn Energy has already started identifying the exact locations where they require deep boring to reach the layers of natural gas and petroleum reserves," said the minister.

He appreciated the "keen interest" shown by the Centre in the crude survey work in the state.

Reserves in the Purnia basin may well be about 465 million tonnes of crude and natural gas, said a source in the mining department of Bihar.
A Shankar in Patna