Global Energy Giants Looking to Exploit Deepwater Opportunities in India: Report

Multinational energy giants like ExxonMobil, Total and Chevron are looking to tap into “deepwater opportunities” presented by India, where vast indigenous sources of energy and the government’s enhancements to facilitate ease of business are making the country attractive to these majors, according to a recent report by Wood Mackenzie, a global research and consultancy organization.

In its January 2023 report, “Why are the majors interested in deepwater India?,” Wood Mackenzie praised the reform measures taken by the Prime Minister’s office to make domestic oil and natural gas exploration competitive and accessible with a myriad of potential mutual benefits. The consultancy, which provides market intelligence reports in the energy sector, highlighted that energy giants like ExxonMobil, Total and Chevron were looking at “deepwater opportunities” with the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

“India’s vast energy market holds many attractions. Not just scale and growth, but also a compelling decarbonisation narrative as gas is required to displace coal,” the report stated.

According to the report there were 5 areas of attraction for the oil majors that made India appear on their radar. These were “New area access and geological prospectivity,” “fiscal and regulatory enhancements,” “gas pricing and marketing freedom,” “the Indian gas market” and the possibility of “Bangladesh-collateral benefits” being another area of operation.

The report also concluded that there was significant alignment from the Prime Minister’s Office down to the regulator that more offshore exploration was the need of the hour. A special mention was made about the recent efforts by the Indian government on the “India stack,” which is a catch-all term for all the digital enhancements being made to facilitate the ease of doing business in the country.

“Other regulatory improvements include PARIVESH, an online portal to speed up environmental approvals, and a move to accept more documents from contractors on a self-certification basis,” added the ‘Wood Mackenzie’ report. The report further states that with fiscal and regulatory enhancements, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is making sure that “more offshore exploration is done, to secure affordable, sustainable and secure supplies of energy.”

The report stated that the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy in 2016 revived interest in the sector. It adds that gas pricing and marketing freedom since 2016 and evolving regulations as one of the reasons for India attracting the interest of international oil companies. “An online portal for gas trading aims to increase transparency, and E&P companies can now auction and trade on the Indian gas exchange,” the report added.

Taking to Twitter, the minister for petroleum and natural gas posted a copy of ‘Wood Mackenzie’ report and said that the “World looks at Modiji’s leadership with confidence and hope.”

Recently, Prime Minister Modi inaugurated India Energy Week 2023 in Bengaluru where top executives from the major energy companies attended and interacted with officials from the energy sector and the prime minister himself. The mega-energy event received praise and ended on an optimistic note about the future of oil and natural gas exploration in India and her waters.