Guwahati: Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Friday said the Centre has approved Rs one lakh crore for oil and gas projects of the North-eastern region and these were expected to be completed by 2025.

The exploration acreage in the region will be doubled from the existing 30,000 square kilometres to 60,00 sq km by 2025 while approximately 20,000 sq kms have already been awarded under Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) over the last three years, Puri said.

The central government has undertaken many key initiatives to augment Infrastructure and pace of economic development in the region since the previous ‘Look East’ policy was transformed to ‘Act East’ policy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said.

The Northeast is of strategic importance for the country, the minister told a press conference after an interactive meeting with investors and industry leaders for the Exploration and Production (E&P) investment opportunities in the region.

The North-eastern states are perceived to be highly prospective based on available geo-scientific information and hence ample opportunities for potential oil and gas finds through accelerated exploration exist in the region, the minister said.

Of the projects for which Rs one lakh crore was approved, the prominent ones are the Rs 27,000 crore upstream project, Rs 30,000 crore for Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL), Rs 10,000 crore for Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited and Rs 33,000 crore under the City Gas Distribution (CGD).

The government has initiated a special bidding round under OALP for the region with acreages being carved out and offered additional incentives for attracting investments, Puri added.

While the exploration acreage will be doubled, there are also plans to double the production of oil and gas from the current nine MMTOE (million metric tonnes of oil equivalent) to 18 MMTOE by 2025, he said.

The minister said the government has plans to set up a dedicated service provider hub in the region to support requirement of the oil and gas industry in collaboration with state governments and implement the North East Gas Grid (NEGG) to provide access of natural gas to end-users.

Six Geographical Areas (GAs) comprising 18 districts in Assam and Tripura are on offer under the 11th Round of CGD Bid Round for developing the City Gas Distribution (CGD) network, he added.

The prime minister had announced that 20 per cent blending of ethanol with petrol should be completed by 2025, he said.

“We have got an overwhelming response in this regard from the Northeast. We are sure that we will cross the target soon,” Puri said.

In Assam, a bamboo-based ethanol plant has been set up at the NRL and more grain-based plants are also expected to come up in the region, the minister said.

He also announced that Digboi refinery, the oldest in the country, will be expanded soon.

There is a huge hydrocarbon potential waiting to be tapped and of the estimated 7600 MMTOE in the Northeast, only 2000 MMTOE has been discovered so far.

With concerted efforts by the industry and governments, oil production is expected to increase by 67 per cent from 4.11 MMT in 2020-21 to 6.85 MMT in the next four years while gas production is also expected to more than double from 5.05 Billion Cubic Metre (BCM) in 2020-21 to 10.87 BCM in the next four years.

The Union minister said Friday’s meeting was held to send a strong message to investors that ample reserves are available in the region and they should actively participate in the upcoming rounds and become part of the national E&P enterprise which is set to gather momentum in the days ahead.

The objective of the meet was to highlight the portfolio of high-volume oil and gas assets of Indian Sedimentary basins, and to promote the Bidding Rounds of Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy and Discovered Small Field Policy.

Officials of the central and state governments, national oil companies, private E&P companies, service providers and academic institutions participated in the meet.

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