Using Cairn Energy and British Gas to promote India

Vol 6, PW 8 (19 Jun 02) People & Policy

PROSPECTIVE OR NOT, you can't fault the oil ministry's decision to include Cairn Energy and British Gas as an integral part of the NELP-III roadshows.

What better way to promote India then to have two foreign companies speak on your behalfMike Watts, exploration director at Cairn Energy and David MacManus, a senior VP at British Gas, both gave remarkably upbeat assessments of India as a place with excellent E&P potential and where working conditions have vastly improved. "Over the nine years we have been working in India," said Watts.

"We have seen significant improvements in obtaining environmental and other statutory clearances." As proof that India has consigned red tape to history, Watts contrasted the five years between award of Cairn's prolific CB-OS/2 block in 1993 and the PSC signing in 1998 with the four months between award of its 98/2 deepwater block in December 1999 and PSC signing in April 2000. "We are paid world class prices for our oil and gas," added Watts.

"In India we have always been paid on time for our gas contracts." MacManus said India is one of BG's six core areas globally and that the company will invest $500m here over the next 3-5 years. He said the Panna, Mukta and Tapti fields, where BG is interim operator with 30%, has "considerable room for expansion in production" and that Tapti in particular "has a capacity to double production in three years." In March, average oil production at Panna-Mukta was 27,994 b/d and average gas production 86.22m cf/d.

At Tapti, gas production averaged 184.74m cf/d. Both men paid tribute to the high quality of local staff.

Said Watts. "In our office only the drivers don't have a university degree!"