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112 oil and gas discoveries in four years: President

business Updated: Feb 12, 2009 12:29 IST

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The UPA government's focus on increased exploration and turning the nation into a refining hub has seen a record number of oil and gas discoveries and a phenomenal 20 per cent jump in crude processing capacity in the past four years.

In her customary address to the joint sitting of Parliament at the beginning of the Budget session, President Pratibha Patil said significant increase in refining capacity, which has quadrupled fuel exports to USD 26.8 billion in 2007-08.

"During the last four years, 112 oil and gas discoveries have been made, significant amongst them being the discovery of gas for the first time in the ultra deep-water areas," she said.

The President, however, did not name state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) for the Krishna Godavari basin UD-1 discovery, the lone ultra deepsea well that may hold up to 2 trillion cubic feet of in-place gas reserves.

Refining capacity has increased from 127.36 million ton on April 1, 2004 to 179.5 million tons currently, turning the nation into a major export hub in the region.

"The refining capacity has significantly increased and our exports of petroleum products have quadrupled from USD 6.6 billion in 2004-05 to USD 26.8 billion," she said.

India is 76 per cent dependent on imports to meet its energy needs and fuel export revenues brings down crude import bill.

Patil said over three crore new customers have been provided with LPG connections, covering about 52 per cent of the population. "Five-kg cylinders have been introduced for low-income customers."

Government has constituted the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board to protect the interests of customers and provide level playing field to oil companies.

To address the manpower needs, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology - an education body at par with renowned IITs - has been established for studies and research in petroleum and energy sectors, she said.

India exported 18.211 million tons of petroleum products in 2004-05 for Rs 29,928 crore (USD 6.6 billion). This has gone up to 39.327 million tons for Rs 107,801 crore (USD 26.8 billion) in 2007-08.