Moily calls for more investments in oil and gas sectors

Mumbai, July 26 (IANS) Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M. Veerappa Moily Friday called for higher investments in the country's oil and gas sector to boost self-sufficiency.

Addressing the National Convention on Oil and Gas 2013, organised by the India Tech Foundation, here, Moily also sought to justify the recent cabinet decision to hike the gas price, saying it would make exploration of natural gas commercially viable.

"Should we pay $6.83 per unit to produce gas domestically or import it at a much higher price? This is the decision we have to make," he said.

He added that around three trillion cubic feet of discovered natural gas in the country lay unutilized as it is not considered viable to commercially exploit the reserves at the prevailing rate of $4.2 oer unit.

Around 80 percent of India's requirements are still met through imports, paying $17 per unit, against the domestic production of gas at $6.83 per unit, he noted.

Urging the need to move ahead and take bold decisions without getting apprehensive about the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), Moily said there is an urgent need to curtail bureaucratic delays.

"The process should not dominate, instead, the focus should be on delivery," he said.

He said that he directed the oil and gas public sector undertakings to step up their capital expenditure in order to boost capacity, and added he would soon hold a meeting with the oil PSUs to review their investment road map.

He hinted that an Open Acreage Licensing Policy would soon be implemented to facilitate faster exploration.

On the issue of acquisition of oil and gas assets abroad, Moily urged Indian companies to become more aggressive in pursuing opportunities in countries like Iran, Kazakstan, Turmenistan and Azerbaijan.

The convention will discuss strategies for development, redevelopment of marginal fields and management of 'brown fields' with the aim of helping accelerate the growth of hydro-carbon sector in India, especially since the country is the sixth largest consumer of oil and gas in the world.