Within days of beginning oil production from the nation's first deep-sea field, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani on Monday came knocking on the doors of top government officials to explain his firm's plans and raise industry issues.
Ambani was to brief Petroleum Minister Murli Deora first but had to go to Oil Secretary RS Pandey instead as the minister's flight from Mumbai got delayed. Ambani, flanked by his oil-man PMS Prasad, then called on S Sundaresan, Additional Secretary in the ministry.
While Ambani was tight-lipped about his meetings, Pandey said "this (was) a courtesy call."
"This is my private visit. Please appreciate my privacy," Ambani told waiting journalists.
Pandey, however, said Ambani talked about production from Reliance's eastern offshore Krishna Godavari basin D6 block, the company's upcoming only-for-exports refinery at Jamnagar in Gujarat and "general issues relating to the industry."
RIL had on September 17 begin oil production from D6.
"I did not know (previously) what is he is coming for... since he was meeting me for the first time, this (was) a courtesy call," he said.
Ambani, according to Pandey, informed that gas production from D6 would begin by end December or early January. Peak output from D6 is envisaged at 80 million standard cubic meters per day, almost doubling domestic gas output.
The 580,000 barrels per day refinery being set up by Reliance Petroleum, a unit of RIL, will commence operations before the year end, Pandey said Ambani had told him.
Pandey said the legal dispute between RIL and Anil Ambani's Reliance Natural Resources, where the Government had sought to implead itself, was not discussed. "We did not discuss about this case. He did not talk about this."
Pandey said Mukesh Ambani explained about the company's plans for D6, but refused to specify the details.
Prasad had earlier this month stated that D6 will pump 89 mmscmd of gas by 2010 to almost double availability of gas in the country.
Initial gas production from Dhirubhai-1 and 3 fields, the first two of the 18 discoveries in Block KG-DWN-98/3 or D6 off the Andhra coast that the company is putting to production, will be 15-20 mmscmd.
"From these two fields, gas production will reach 80 mmscmd in next 6-8 quarters," he had said. Another 9 mmscmd gas would be produced from the MA oil field in the same block.
Reliance is investing USD 5.2 billion in developing Dhirubhai-1 and 3 discoveries that will produce 40 mmscmd by mid-2009.
The firm has submitted development plan for eight other fields adjoining Dhirubhai-1 and 3, to the oil regulator for
approval. The fields would produce an additional 25 mmscmd.
Reliance earlier this month started producing oil from the MA field and output is expected to reach 20,000 barrels per day in one month from current 5,500 bpd. Gas flowing along with the oil is currently being re-injected into the wells and this gas would flow together with Dhirubhai-1 and 3 gas.
Peak oil output of 40,000 bpd from MA would be achieved in 6-8 quarters, Prasad had stated then.