Photo: Illustration; Source: Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)

ExxonMobil and ONGC to embark on deepwater oil & gas exploration off India

U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil has joined forces with the Indian government-owned company Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to pursue hydrocarbon exploration opportunities in deep waters offshore India, which will help the country strengthen its energy security.

ExxonMobil and ONGC signed a Heads of Agreement (HoA) on 17 August 2022 for deepwater exploration on the East and West coasts of India.

Commenting on this, Shri Pankaj Jain, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, remarked: “Partnerships between a National Oil Company (NOC) like ONGC and an International Oil Company (IOC) like ExxonMobil will bring tangible benefits in the entire energy value chain and open new vistas to exploration & production paradigm. This collaboration will boost our confidence in going further ahead in deepwater exploration on the east coast of India where the potential is quite significant.”

The document was signed at the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas by Shri Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, ONGC Director (Exploration) and Dr Monte K Dobson, ExxonMobil India CEO & Lead Country Manager, in the presence of the Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

Heads of Agreement being exchanged between Mr. Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, Director (Exploration), ONGC (right) and Dr. Monte K Dobson , CEO & Lead Country Manager, ExxonMobil India (left), in the presence of Shri Pankaj Jain, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (center)
Heads of Agreement being exchanged between Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, Director (Exploration), ONGC (right) and Dr Monte K Dobson, CEO & Lead Country Manager, ExxonMobil India (left), in the presence of Shri Pankaj Jain, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (centre)

Dr Monte K Dobson, ExxonMobil India’s CEO & Lead Country Manager, said: “It’s an exciting opportunity to collaborate with ONGC. Great things happen when the right people collaborate.”

Dobson further added that 25 per cent of ExxonMobil’s “brain power” is currently engaged in evaluating Indian deepwater and the firm is “geared up to take this collaboration to the next level.”

According to ONGC, this collaboration will focus on the Krishna Godavari and Cauvery basins in the eastern offshore and the Kutch-Mumbai region in the western offshore. The Indian giant explained that there has been a scientific exchange of exploration data in the last few years, which has led to this partnership. Moreover, the collaboration between these two players is anticipated to be a “strategic fit” where ONGC’s knowledge and past experience in these areas will be coupled with ExxonMobil’s global insights.

Shri Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, the Director (Exploration) ONGC, stated: “With this strategic collaboration to pursue exploration, I look forward to a long-lasting partnership. Through the discovery route, ONGC hopes to move to development wherein the inherent strength of ExxonMobil would be beneficial for efficient fast-track monetisation. This will enable ONGC to ensure steps towards energy security for India.”

This deal comes only months after ONGC teamed up with Norway’s state-owned energy giant Equinor to participate in several energy projects.

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The deal, which is valid for two years, covers upstream exploration & production, midstream, downstream, and clean energy options such as renewables as well as carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCS).