Conflict killing ONGC's Sudan ventures

Oil & Natural Gas Corp has suspended crude oil production from its fields in South Sudan due to the ongoing armed conflict between North and South Sudan, Sudhir Vasudeva, chairman and managing director of the state-run explorer, said in Vadodra on Friday.

"The dispute between North and South Sudan has been troublesome for us. Production from South Sudan has been discontinued for the last three months, while in North Sudan it is also reduced. Till three months ago, we used to produce 50,000 barrels per annum from South Sudan," Vasudava told a press conference during a visit to the company's Gujarat facilities.

As against a target of nine million tonnes for the year 2011-12 for Sudan and Syria, production from ONGC Videsh Ltd, its overseas arm, has seen a drop of 0.8 million tonnes in production.

While it's Sudan and Syria assets have taken a hit due to geopolitical turmoil, in India ONGC has set a target of 27.5 million tonnes of oil production for 2012-13 as well as 25.7 billion cubic metres for gas production.

In 2011-12, the company achieved 99.7 per cent of its 27 million tonnes oil production targets, Vasudeva claimed.

On ONGC's bid through consortium for a stake in Gujarat Gas Company Ltd, Vasudeva said, "We are everywhere in the hydrocarbon value chain and one thing left for us is city gas distribution. It is a natural corollary to be everywhere. About 200 cities will be put on the CGD (direct domestic gas supply) network in the near future."

Looking further into the future, Vasudeva said, "2016-17 is going to be a red-letter year for ONGC when the 98/2 block will begin production. By then we are aiming at 100 million cu m per day of gas production.''

Vasudeva said the company is looking to recruit 1,000-1,500 new people every year. "Once upon a time our average age was 49 years. It has now come down to 47.5 years. We look to bring it down further through this recruitment drive," he said.