The energy needs of one billion souls pose mighty challenges for India.
Booming consumption, new technology and major new discoveries make the rapidly
developing subcontinent an increasingly attractive target for exploration.
GEO India 2008, scheduled Sept. 17-19 at the newly built India Expo Centre EXPO
XXI in Greater Noida, New Delhi – with major support from AAPG and cooperation of several other societies – is the first major scientific conference to examine India for a global
perspective, according to Dinesh Kumar Pande, director of exploration for India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, and Organizing Committee Chairman of GEO
Pande recently carved time from his busy schedule to respond to wide-ranging
questions from the EXPLORER regarding the conference and India’s evolving role in the world’s energy and exploration future.
EXPLORER: Would you discuss India’s place in today’s global energy future?
PANDE: The world uses a wide variety of energy today and consumed about 11
billion tonnes oil equivalent of primary energy in 2006, 21 percent of which
was consumed by the United States, followed by China with 16 percent. India is
the fifth largest consumer with almost 4 percent of share at 423 million tonnes
of oil equivalent consumption (oil, gas and coal).
During the last quarter century (1980-2006), primary energy consumption
increased by about 64 percent (from 6.64 BT to 10.89 BT); oil by 31 percent
(from 2.96 BT to 3.89 BT); and gas by a whopping 98 percent (1.45 TCM to 2.87
TCM), primarily driven by growing demand from the developing world.
Per capita primary energy consumption in India is 0.38 TOE against the global
average of 1.29 TOE; one of the lowest in the world. In Canada it is 9.89 TOE,
followed by 7.76 in the United States, and then Russia, U.K., France, Japan,
Germany, South Korea and China, etc. China has maintained consumption less than
global average despite its large population base. It is evident that
hydrocarbons would continue to hold a significant position at least for the
ensuing two decades, with marginal impact on account of both conservation
measures and a mix of new technology and alternate drivers.
Most forecasts for the next quarter-century project a more than 60 percent
increase in energy demand, mainly from emerging consumption centers. India’s demand for primary energy in 2030 is projected to be four-times what we are
consuming today (423 MToe). In addition, it is estimated to be in the range of
350 to 450 MMT of oil, 100 to 200 MToe of gas and 600 to 1,000 MToe of coal.
So, oil, gas and coal would continue to be dominant fuel at that point of time
Presently just nine countries account for 95 percent imports of crude oil. Among
these countries, China, the United States and India are currently having robust
growth. In case of supply constraints India will have to compete with these
countries for the limited oil supply.
How do you assess India’s energy future?
As India is preparing to reach higher economic growth levels in all spheres in
the new millennium, energy challenge is of fundamental importance to the
country’s growth imperatives.
Energy needs recognized focus areas along with agriculture, poverty alleviation
and education. The share of commercial energy in the total primary energy
consumption in the country has grown from 28 percent to 65 percent over the
last 50 years. Likewise, among the commercial energy resources, the dependence
over coal has reduced from 86 percent to 55 percent, while oil/gas have grown
from a meager 13 percent to 41 percent. In fact, gas entered the scene in the
1980s, and in a short span of 20 years it has come to occupy 7 percent of the
commercial energy supply to the nation.
These changes bring out clearly that coal still dominates as a commercial energy
source; however oil/gas would take up the second position.
The hydro and nuclear options do not substantially contribute to the energy
needs as of now, and despite the move forward with regard to the nuclear deal,
India is unlikely to upscale its activities in this field to cover any
substantial ground in the immediate future.
If oil and gas are available at affordable prices and in sufficient quantities,
then India is poised to follow the suit of developed countries with oil
enjoying largest share of commercial energy sources and gas accounting for more
than 20 percent.
However, if oil and gas face supply constraints due to “peak oil” limiting the growth in oil production and subsequent price escalation due to
many bidders for the limited oil production, India will be forced to find a new
paradigm for development and growth wherein main energy source would not be hydrocarbon.
In terms of exploration how much is going on today in India? How is this
different from the past? What and where are the “hotspots” of exploration?
Exploration in India has gained momentum recently thanks to several policy
initiatives by the government of India, like introduction of NELP, which calls
for completion of exploratory programs in a time bound manner. This has also
brought in several global and home-grown players, and also has set a healthy
environment for knowledge sharing.
(The number of) offshore seismic surveys here are amongst the highest in the
world (both 2-D and 3-D). Land crews, both in-house for companies like ONGC as
well as service providers, probably would be in excess of 50 deployed in
various parts of the country in the acreages under lease.
Until recently (about 2000) there was hardly any deployment through service
providers. Huge increases in offshore seismic surveys are largely because of
the introduction of NELP with various operators being involved in the E&P business.
National companies almost completely dominated the E&P scenario in the country, but some recent ventures have been witnessed by
private operators, like Reliance Petroleum, who established one of the world’s largest gas fields in 2002 in the east coast. Smaller operators have now
entered the field, like the Scottish company Cairn, which have been successful
in opening up new areas in the onshore sector like Rajasthan.
The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, a land-based route that is in the offing,
would undoubtedly make India a major gas consumer.
The country’s hot spot for exploration is the eastern offshore province largely comprising
the Bay of Bengal along with the Andaman Sea – not only because the deepwater exploratory successes there are sizeable today
and in all likelihood would continue to provide larger field sizes, but also
because it would challenge all G&G and engineering skills in the deep- and ultra-deepwater sector.
What are the biggest challenges facing India’s oil and gas exploration today (geological, political, financial, logistic,
India is politically a very stable country, offering one of the best possible
environments for exploration with a stable fiscal regime and protection of
contractor’s interests. With an overall GDP growth of around 8 percent and ruling high oil
prices, allocation of funds for exploration also has not been a problem.
However, it is a known fact that cost of exploration is rising, and with the
prevailing energy challenge there is hardly any margin for error. Accuracy and
precision therefore is name of the game.
Technology will be needed to help overcome challenges in every sphere. Field
growth opportunities and near field exploration for established plays in the
producing basins are peaking. As geoscientists, the onus is on us to find more
oil, which we believe to be in older stratigraphy at deeper depths.
There has been an explosion in technology but areas of concern remain, including
imaging of deeper objectives, sub-basalt imaging, time and depth domain
resolution, reservoir characterization and fluid prediction, pore pressure
prediction, tackling harsh sub-surface conditions and exploration for
unconventional plays like shale gas and basin centered gas.
The foremost challenge would be to reduce the API cycle time. Advancements in
processing technology can bridge this, especially when processing technologies
and computing capacities are evolving in leaps and bounds.
A world-wide shortage of deepwater rigs also has had its share of effect on the
current exploration plans in India, forcing delays in implementation of several
What are your expectations for GEO India?
For the first time three Indian geoscience societies, namely the Association of
Petroleum Geologists (APG), Society of Petroleum Geophysicists (SPG) and
Society of Professional Well Log Analysts (SPWLA) are coming under one umbrella
and partnering with AAPG to launch a truly international E&P conference and exposition series in India under the name GEO India.
In India there have been numerous conferences organized by Indian societies
dedicated to specific domain area of E&P with limited international participation – but we felt a need to have an event covering the entire E&P span and extensive global participation of geoscientists. GEO India will
precisely provide this opportunity to the geosciences fraternity.
The technical program offers 21 oral sessions covering more than 90 high quality
presentations, 30 plenary and keynote speeches and more than 150 poster
GEO India … will address not only new developments and applications in
geology, geophysics and geochemistry, but also some overarching issues such as
the future potential of hydrocarbons.
The conference will provide a platform for ultimately contributing to the
ongoing expansion of E&P activity in India and the throughout South Asia.
Also, the conference is strongly supported by the government of India.