Oil and Natural Gas Corp, which has been investing heavily to maintain output from its old fields, aims to raise its crude oil production by 14.6 percent by March 2014, its new chairman said on Tuesday.
"Production is definitely a problem ... in core activities our focus has to be on exploration. We will revisit our strategy of exploration," Sudhir Vasudeva said in his first media event after taking charge on Monday.
Vasudeva said his aim is to raise the firm's oil output to 28 million tonnes or 560,000 barrels per day (bpd) by March 2014 and gas production by 58 percent to 36.5 billion cubic metres by March 2017.
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India, the world's fourth-biggest oil importer, buys in nearly 80 percent of its oil needs as expanding refining capacity has outpaced growth in local oil output. ONGC's local oil output has been almost stagnant in the last five years.
ONGC produces about 63 percent of India's oil output, which was 767,900 barrels per day in August, according to government data.
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The bulk of ONGC's oil and gas output comes from old fields that were witnessing an annual decline of 7-8 percent until a few years ago, when it began implementing techniques to improve oil and gas recovery.
Total investment in lifting output from these fields would touch 260 billion rupees ($5.3 billion) by 2013-14, he said.
ONGC's oil output has declined about 6 percent in the four years to March 2011, while gas output has risen about 3 percent to 23.10 billion cubic metres during the period, a company statement said.
Vasudeva said ONGC is open to partnership with global firms to raise its output -- something private Indian company Reliance Industries did earlier this year.
Reliance agreed to sell a 30 percent stake in 23 oil and gas blocks to BP in a deal worth $7.2 billion, hoping to get the multinational company's expertise to help lift gas output from its D6 block off the east coast.
"We are open to all sorts of partnerships -- whether it is strategic or for technology," Vasudeva said.
In June, Vasudeva's predecessor A.K. Hazarika said Italy's Eni and BG Group were interested in partnering ONGC for developing its gas-rich east coast block.
The Indian government wants ONGC to secure energy supplies overseas to fuel the country's fast-growing economy.
Vasudeva said ONGC would try to secure 400,000 bpd of oil from abroad earlier than its target of 2020. ONGC currently gets 190,000 bpd oil from its overseas assets.
ONGC has stakes in producing assets in Vietnam, Sudan, Russia, Colombia, Syria, Venezuela and Brazil.
Asked about the government's plan to sell a 5 percent stake in the company, Vasudeva said was up to the government to decide on timings of the proposed share sale.
"The market has been behaving very erratically ... The government has to take a call," Vasudeva said.