Pradhan wants 'quick production' from DSF-3

Vol 24, PW 15 (17 Jun 21) People & Policy

Impatient for results, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan has called on prospective bidders for 32 areas in DSF-3 to promise they will start producing fast.

"These are discovered fields," said Pradhan at the DSF-3 launch ceremony on June 10 (2021). "It shouldn't take more than four years to start production; ideally, I would like to see production after two or three years."

During his seven-minute address, delivered in Hindi, Pradhan did little to conceal his disappointment at the slow progress of operators in bringing fields from DSF-2, launched in August 2018, and DSF-1, launched in May 2016, onto production and urged operators to speed up. "In this fast-growing technology era," added Pradhan, "there is no excuse for any production delays."

Pradhan hinted that DSF-3 winners would be asked to commit to early production targets in a departure from earlier rounds. Sitting alongside Pradhan, oil secretary Tarun Kapoor called on ONGC and Reliance to help smaller operators without divulging exactly how they could "help".

Kapoor also expressed the forlorn hope that international operators from overseas would participate in DSF-3, fully aware that in DSF-1 and DSF-2 they were absent. He also said he wants to see "25 to 30" smaller domestic operators with deep pockets bid in DSF-3, not just for onland areas but for challenging offshore areas.

Kapoor stressed that smaller operators could gain valuable experience with DSF fields to prepare "for bigger fields in future", echoing Pradhan's chilling statement, at least for ONGC and Oil India, that this would be "the last round" for small discovered fields and that the government is preparing to offer some of ONGC and Oil India's bigger (producing) assets to outside bidders. But for now, the government's focus is on DSF-3 and its 75 discoveries in 11 onshore, 20 offshore and one deepwater block covering 13,684-sq km with in-place reserves of 230m tonnes of oil and oil-equivalent-gas.