NEW DELHI: The government will create a company to own and operate India's maiden National Data Repository (NDR) that stores information on the vast sedimentary basins in a bid to boost oil and gas exploration and production, a senior official said on Thursday.
The NDR was launched in 2017 to assimilate, preserve and upkeep the country's vast sedimentary data for future use in oil and gas exploration and production.
"The government has decided that NDR will be transferred into a separate company -- a separate independent company," said Amar Nath, joint secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Speaking at the 'Upstream Ahead' conference, he said the decision has been taken and formalities are being completed.
NDR will acquire and store seismic and other data that can be used by any company for a fee to look for prospecting of oil and gas in the country.
It aids the open acreage licensing regime where companies can choose areas they want to explore.
Under the open acreage licensing (OAL), companies can visit NDR and look at the vast seismic data of currently producing fields and explored areas as also those of unexplored areas.
From the areas that are not under any licensee, they can then carve out an area suitable to them and evince interest in doing exploration and production.
Once an area is selected, the government will put it up for bidding and any firm offering the maximum share of oil or gas produced from the area would be awarded the block.
NDR currently is housed with the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) and its activities funded by the government.
The idea behind spinning off NDR into a separate company is to make its operations financially independent -- funding its activities from fees collected from companies buying data, an official said.
The intent is to transform it to scale up efficiency in data management, share E&P data with a wider section of stakeholders, promote exploration activities, trigger quality data generation and mature into a database platform where data science methods including big data analytics can be used to gain subsurface understanding and mitigate risks in exploration.
Nath said the government is also mulling providing oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) licenses to companies with all necessary environmental and other approvals so as to cut time to production.
This is with an aim to make it easier to do business, he added.
Speaking at the same conference, Oil Secretary Tarun Kapoor said the government is focused on increasing oil and gas production.
"We have been trying to push up production, which has stagnated in recent years. Discoveries have been few and major discoveries are even fewer," he said, adding the answer lies in using technology to process data to find prospective leads.
He further said the priority is to have a larger area under exploration and subsequently move into production.
Also, the objective is to raise output from currently producing ones.
"Short term objective is to get more production and in the long term, have more discoveries," he said.
While licensing reforms have taken place, clearances and approvals must happen faster, he added.
The government, he said, is working on a standard operating procedure and standard timelines, prescribing time for every stage of clearance.