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The northeast region holds 18 per cent of the country's hydrocarbon resources with a large area not yet surveyed. The government could use it to meet demand of neighbouring countries.
Speaking at a "Consultation on Hydrocarbon and Industries in NorthEast", Tripura Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma said on Saturday the annual demand for petroleum products in the northeast was around 3.2 million tonnes and with the proposed expansion, it would have surplus capacity.
"The region's crude oil production is 12,444 tonnes a day and the gas output around 11.32 million standard cubic meter per day. The new pipeline, part of which would go through Bangladesh under a transit agreement, is expected to connect the northeast with the rest of the country. The Centre plans to categorise high risk areas, considering the tough conditions and connectivity issues, into a separate category called challenging blocks," he said.
Beyond production, the focus areas included exploring hydrocarbon linkages and trade opportunities with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan, implementation of 'Make in India' in the region, Dev Varma said.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has released the "Hydrocarbon Vision 2030" for the north-east, outlining steps to leverage the hydrocarbon sector for the development of the region.
The vision aimed at doubling oil & gas production by 2030, making clean fuels accessible, fast tracking projects, creating jobs and promoting cooperation with neighbouring countries, he said. "With the policy, the northeast India would be a gateway of southeast Asia in future," Dev Varma said.
At present, India has 215 million tonnes a year refining capacity, dominated by state-run companies. Private players -- Reliance Industries and Essar -- produce 80 million tonnes from their facilities in Gujarat.
Taking part in the discussion, ONGC Executive Director Tarun Malik said the national gas grid connectivity was a big development. "To connect north-eastern states with the gas pipeline, a 721 km pipeline would be laid -- from Barauni in Bihar to Guwahati in Assam -- by 2021. The Haldia-Paradip-Barauni pipeline will connect Guwahati," Malik said.
The newly formed company Indradhanush Gas Grid will set up the gas grid project.
The N-E area was surrounded by regions that had either huge demand or surplus supply, Malik said. The dual strategy for import and export should also be considered. "As the ONGC is exploring gas reserves in Tripura and other N-E states, medium and big industries be set up to use the gas," the ONGC official said.
The day-long event was organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). CII's North-East Council Chairman Abhijit Barooah said downstream industrialisation was essential for growth. "With the gas pipeline coming into the region, power, cement, fertilisers, polymers, tea companies can benefit from this as well as spin-offs in the MSME sector," Barooah said.
Common concerns included poor infrastructure, limited pipeline connectivity both within the region as well as with the rest of the country, socio-political issues such as land acquisition and displacement of people, unavailability of specialised service providers within the region, unavailability of adequate evacuation infrastructure, lower local demand from industry amongst many others, he said.