The Petroleum and Natural gas ministry has sounded out state-controlled Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) on a “serious security threat from Pakistan-based terrorists” on its establishments in Mumbai and adjoining areas.
Following inputs from intelligence agencies, the ministry served a security alert to ONGC on March 8, asking the company to take all necessary steps to ensure the security of its operations. Ministry sources said the intelligence agencies have alerted authorities over a possible attack on ONGC’s vital installations from “suicidal vessel attacks” or “by terrorists and enemy parading in the grab of fishermen” and “through possible act of sabotage.”
ONGC’s Chairman and Managing Director R.S. Sharma confirmed that an alert had been received but declined to share specific details citing “security concerns.” However, he said adequate security measures had been taken along in coordination with security agencies including the Navy and the Coast Guard.
Informed sources said Petroleum Minister Murli Deora will shortly meet Home Minister P. Chidambaram to work out a strategy to prevent any disruptions arising from such threats.
A meeting of the home and petroleum secretaries with ONGC chairman is also scheduled for next week.
ONGC’s installations are spread over 10,000 square km on the western offshore in addition to the 4,800 km of undersea pipelines carrying crude oil to refineries and gas for core sector (power and fertiliser) industries. Any disruption of operations at these installations could hamper industrial operations.
ONGC’s installations on the western offshore basin includes the Mumbai High field and also the Bassein and Uran gas fields.
ONGC and security agencies are putting in place an elaborate surveillance system to guard its sub-sea oil and gas facilities - which are a major source of oil and gas supplies in the country.
The surveillance system comprising of series of radars can track marine and air traffic and can give advance warning against stray boats or vessels as well as aircraft. This system alerts ONGC’s staff working on platforms and coastal and air defence forces to initiate preventive action.