Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan switchng on the suction pump to start commercial oil production from ONGC’s Ashoknagar-1 project near Kolkata on Sunday
NEW DELHI: State-run explorer ONGC on Sunday put West Bengal on India’s oil map by starting commercial production from Ashoknagar field near Kolkata, a move that will add heft to PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Purvodaya (rising east)’ plank in the runup to the state assembly elections a few months away.
Though the company did not provide any production estimate, the field, located 47 km from Kolkata in North 24 Parganas, brings redemption to the state as well as ONGC since the success follows several commercially unviable gas discoveries in the Bay of Bengal. It also establishes the Bengal Basin — India’s eighth sedimentary basin — as a commercially viable source of hydrocarbons.
“Around seven decades of relentless endeavours by scientists and engineers of India have panned out giving hope for robust development of West Bengal. The formal dedication of production site to the nation today marks this as a moment of national pride and a gift from the soil of West Bengal to India,” oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said after dedicating the project to the nation.
Ashoknagar has come on stream at a time when the BJP is upping the ante against Mamata Banerjee, the party may use the project to underline its commitment to economic progress and highlight the alleged lack of development under Mamata Banerjee’s rule.
Commercially, the project has come on-stream amid an uptick in crude prices, which will help ONGC recoup Rs 3,381 crore it invested before striking pay dirt in 2018 by discovering the field. It also earns ONGC the distinction of discovering seven out of the country’s eight producing basins, covering 83% of established oil and gas reserves.
The project initially yielded one lakh cubic meters per day of gas but was later developed as an oil project under the government’s early monetisation plan. Oil produced during the test phase was sent to IndianOil’s Haldia refinery in the state for testing on November 5.
ONGC is India’s largest oil and gas producer contributing 72 per cent of the country’s hydrocarbon production.