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Increasing output main focus, says new OIL CMD

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, July 10 - Increasing the production of crude oil will be the main goal of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in the days to come as the country is depending mostly on imports to meet its demands, said Utpal Borah, who has been appointed as the Chairman-cum-Managing Director (CMD) of OIL. He also added that he would work in close coordination with the State Government on law and order issues.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Borah said the Government of India is keen on increasing crude production in the country as a huge amount of money is spent on imports every year and the OIL would also try to increase oil output. He said that the public sector oil exploration companies have already started making efforts for increasing production.

Borah pointed out that he would come to know about the problems faced by the OIL in increasing production only after assuming charge and try his best to ensure that the production level comes up. �I am not aware of the internal problems faced by the OIL. But I am confident that those problems can be sorted out,� he added.

Borah, who is now functioning as the Executive Director of the ONGC, said that expanding exploration activities would be the key for OIL, while efforts would be made to use modern technology to increase production. Strict monitoring can also increase the overall efficiency of any organization, he pointed out.

On the law and order situation and frequent bandhs in Assam, which affected the performance of OIL in the last few years, Borah said that these issues are not in control of the oil major. He said that he would work in close coordination with the State Government to overcome such problems. He hoped that the State Government would extend necessary support to the OIL authorities in its activities.

Replying to a question on the financial crunch faced by OIL a few months back due to fall of crude oil price in the international market, Borah said the crude oil price is a delicate issue and it is difficult to predict the prices in the global market. The price has now gone up to around 60 dollars a barrel and it should not affect the functioning of companies like OIL, he said.

Borah pointed out that at one point of time, the price of crude oil in the international market had come down to less than 30 dollars a barrel. Though it affected the functioning of the oil companies like OIL as the difference between the cost of

production and oil price narrowed down, it helped the country as a whole as India spends a huge amount of money in importing crude oil to meet its demand.

He revealed that at one point of time, the crude price in the global market went up to more than 140 dollars a barrel and as India has to import around 80 per cent of its crude oil requirement, the country was forced to spend a huge amount of money. After the price came down, the Government of India managed to spend the money elsewhere, he added.

On the decision of the Government of India to auction 12 small and marginal oilfields in Assam, Borah expressed the view that the move should not harm the State. He pointed out that auctioning of oilfields is nothing new and more than 60 such small and marginal fields are being auctioned all over the country. He said that the 12 such fields to be auctioned in Assam were lying idle for years and auctioning would bring in private investments. The move should help the State in the long run, he said.

On the possibility of OIL acquiring oilfields in other parts of the world, Borah said that OIL and ONGC have already acquired oilfields outside the country and started production in these oilfields. He, however, pointed out that at present, he was not in a position to say whether OIL would go for acquiring new fields in foreign countries in immediate future as the government approval is required for such acquisitions.

It may be mentioned here that Borah has more than 33 years of experience in the oil sector as he had joined ONGC in 1982. He has knowledge of the oil industry in Assam as he had worked in Sivasagar and Nazira as an ONGC officer. However, the date on which he will formally take over as the OIL CMD is yet to be finalized.

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