Vol 3, PW 7 (28 Apr 99) People & Policy

Two Indian chairmen, with two clearly defined strategies.

In separate interviews to the Indian press this week, Bikash Bora, Chairman and Managing Director, ONGC, and CR Prasad, Chairman, Gas Authority of India (GAIL), answered questions about their future plans. "We have been discussing synergy options with ONGC for some time now", Prasad told the Economic Times, "We plan to get into the exploration sector with ONGC by bidding for some of the blocks under NELP.

We may be also interested in some of the overseas exploration blocks and are already in talks with ONGC Videsh to take up some blocks in Kazakhstan". Prasad adds GAIL is finalising a plan to set up a 3m tonne LNG terminal at Trombay in collaboration with Tata and Total and that GAIL will play a major role in marketing gas from Petronet-LNG to customers: "We plan to take the gas to at least twenty centres on the HBJ line", he said.

Bikash Bora, in an interview with the Madras-based Business Line newspaper, blamed ONGCs low reserve accretion on a past over-emphasis on seeking out structural traps in Indias six mature basins. "Our strategy is now to explore for stratigrahic traps in these basins and open up frontier basins and acquire low-risk properties overseas".

(Bora was in Algeria between 10-14 April for talks with Sonatrach at the head of an Indian delegation comprising officials from GAIL and Indian Oil Corporation). On ONGCs unsuccessful deepwater experience, Bora adds: "The drilling of two eastern offshore wells has given us experience and knowledge which will be of immense help in taking up more deepwater structures for exploration".

In an indication that ONGC has not given up hopes of a joint venture outside NELP, Bora adds: "We have deliberately not commenced drilling in a few of our deepwater blocks where efforts are on to tie-up with experienced deep-sea operating companies on an alliance basis".