A Kazakhstan geophysical firm is beginning a massive 2-D seismic survey on the Brahmaputra, one of Asia's biggest and most turbulent rivers in Assam, to hunt for crude oil reserves, officials said Wednesday.
"The survey by the Kazakhstan firm will start in November on the Brahmaputra river covering an area of about 1,809 km," Mulkh Raj Pasrija, chairman-cum-managing director of Oil India Limited (OIL), said.
OIL, India's premier state-owned oil exploration firm, said the survey was likely to take two years and was expected to cost about Rs 10 billion.
"This is a proven oil rich zone and we are confident of striking crude along the Brahmaputra once exploration work begins after the survey," Pasrija said.
The 2,906-kilometre river traverses Tibet, India and Bangladesh before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. India produces about 30 million tonnes of crude oil annually, with Assam accounting for about five million tonnes.
OIL, with its headquarters located in Assam, produces about 3.2 million tonnes of crude in the state annually.
"Our target is to produce about 3.5 million tonnes of crude in Assam within a year and hence we have launched an aggressive attempt," the OIL chairman said.
The company has hired several foreign firms to revitalise aging oilfields and carry out exploration works in new areas.
"We are venturing into new areas like Arunachal Pradesh where we are currently doing exploration works in two places," Pasrija said.
The company also plans to increase natural gas production from 5.7 million cubic meters to 7 million cubic meters per day by the end of next year. Assam has over 1.3 billion tonnes of proven crude oil and 156 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, of which about an estimated 58 percent of these hydrocarbon reserves are yet to be explored.
"Assam accounts for nearly 50 per cent of India's on-shore crude oil production and has the highest success ratio in the world with 70 percent of the exploration sites yielding oil," the OIL chairman said.
Assam is also home to the world's oldest operating oil refinery, the Digboi Refinery, established in 1901.