State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is to undertake massive exploration works in Tripura to tap around 40 billion cubic metres of gas reserves, officials at Agartala said.
The gas would be supplied to a proposed 740 MW capacity giant thermal power plant and cater to other industrial projects across the state, said RK Marya, ONGC Tripura asset group general manager. He said the corporation would undertake drilling 60 exploratory and 14 developmental wells for this.
"The existing gas handling facility would be enhanced from 1.6 million cubic metre (mcm) gas per day to 7.5 mcm in a phased manner."
The 740 MW power plant is being set up at a cost of Rs 400 billion at Palatana in south Tripura to tap the gas potential in this logistically difficult state. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone of the plant in October in 2005.
"ONGC's first-ever commercial power project, for which a Special Purpose Vehicle has been formed, would be commissioned by 2009 and supply gas to other northeastern and northern states of India," said Marya.
The joint venture project, incorporated around one-and-a-half years back as a partnership between the Tripura government, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (ILFS) and ONGC, also involves laying of a 255 km-Tripura Gas Grid and laying of 640 km-transmission lines to connect the national power grid line at Bongaigaon in southern Assam.
ONGC, which had been incurring losses after it started drilling operations in Tripura in 1972, has explored 11 of the 19 structures mapped till date. Seven gas fields have been discovered, out of which four fields are presently being utilised. It has so far drilled 122 wells in the bordering state.
"The country's first PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) project, mooted by President APJ Abdul Kalam, aimed at providing urban facilities in rural and backward areas was started by ONGC at Maichara in south Tripura in April last year," he said.
The public sector undertaking has been organising many welfare activities like medical camps and distributing essentials to the needy poor. ONGC has also been promoting sports activities in Tripura and sponsoring and holding major tournaments. It has also been building roads and other infrastructure, Marya added.