“If Pakistan can discover lots of oil and gas across the border, why can’t India also discover hydrocarbons in areas very close to the borders?” asked an ONGC official


After years of exploration in the Himalayan region, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is yet to find anything in the fragile mountainous regions of Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal, despite drilling in several areas.

However, its senior officials say their studies indicate chances of huge oil and gas reserves on the 100-km Bhimbargali-Naushera border belt in Jammu’s Poonch and Rajauri districts (confirmed by N K Verma, director, exploration), where oil exploration has become a major challenge for security reasons. It hasn’t been able to drill here; Pakistani troops fire regularly on Indian positions.

And, Pakistan has found around 50 oil wells across the border.

“If Pakistan can discover lots of oil and gas across the border, why can’t India also discover hydrocarbons in these areas, very close to the borders?” asked an ONGC official.

Allotment policy
They also say the central government should change its policy of allotting oil blocks in this area, instead going for auction.

“We can buy these blocks through auction and carry out our drilling with the help of the army,” said a top official. The centre at present  allocates blocks to oil companies through a bidding process.

On the other hand, ONGC had been drilling regularly elsewhere in Jammu and Himachal Pradesh, where it has not been able to strike any gas or oil. Recently, it drilled 5,000 metres at the Kasauli block in Himachal Pradesh; it is set to drill in one more block in the Jwalamukhi area, shortly. ONGC spends around Rs 100 crore for drilling one block.

When contacted, ONGC director (exploration) N K Verma confirmed that ONGC’s studies show that there are chances of finding oil and gas in the Bhimbargali-Naushera belt in Jammu and Kashmir.

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