ONGC keen on nuclear biz - exploring uranium reserves with UCIL

New Delhi: With domestic oil marketing major, the Indian Oil Corporation, declaring its intention to get involved with the nuclear energy sector, State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) said Monday it would be interested in setting up a nuclear power plant should its current collaboration with the Uranium Corp of India Ltd (UCIL) result in discovery of uranium supplies.

ONGC and the UCIL are currently examining logs of over 900 oil and gas wells drilled by ONGC to look for extractable uranium reserves, according to ONGC chairman and managing director RS Sharma.

"ONGC has already initiated the exercise of studying its well logs, which have indicated traces of the mineral in some wells," Sharma said.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) here, Sharma said, "That (the setting up of a nuclear power plant) will be the logical way forward. But the decision will depend on the result (of exploration)," he said. "Our vision is to become an integrated energy company and not just restrict ourselves to oil and gas."

Sharma did not specify the quantum of investment that the venture with UCI would entail. "Our board has sanctioned Rs500 crore for research and development and pilots for renewable and alternate energy. This includes uranium mining."

Both ONGC and UCIL are at present seeking extractable reserves of uranium in areas where oil and gas wells drilled by ONGC had shown traces of uranium. According to Sharma, the current exploration activities were focussed in Assam and the company was likely to drill two pilot wells this year as part of exploration process.

"Core teams have been created. We hope to have some leads soon," he said.

Sharma said though ONGC had signed a memorandum of understanding with UCIL, his company was open to induct foreign technology if the need arose.