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READING LIST

FEBRUARY 2015 ISSUE

PLEASE NOTE: FORCE no longer has an office at 110, Sector 37, Noida. All future correspondence should be sent to E-19, Ground Floor, Sector 3, Noida 201301, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Force Magazine

Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

Security of offshore assets is a vital aspect of India’s growth
 

By Cmde Lalit Kapur (retd)

Lalit KapurAccording to statistics on the ministry of petroleum and natural gas website, the offshore sector accounted for production of 18.2 million tonnes of crude oil (over 48 per cent of the nation’s domestic production) and 72.3 MMSCMD of natural gas (74.5 per cent of the domestic production) in 2013-14. The collective value of this annual output, even at the current depressed price of around USD 45 per barrel, is nearly USD 13.9 billion or over Rs 86,000 crore. The replacement cost of the infrastructure for extraction of oil and gas from sub-sea fields, at a conservative estimate, is well in excess of Rs 250,000 crore. Is enough being done to secure this strategic national asset?

Before answering this question, it would be necessary to understand what needs to be secured and the threat. Current offshore hydrocarbon producing areas, or Offshore Development Areas(s) (ODA) comprise the Mumbai High, Bassein, Panna, Mukta, Heera, Neelam, Laxmi, Gauri and Tapti fields on the West Coast of India, stretching along the Gujarat and Maharashtra coasts. On the East Coast, they include the PY 1, PY 3, Ravva and KG D6 fields in the Cauvery and Krishna-Godavari basins on the Tamil Nadu and Andhra coasts. Future areas could include the Mahanadi basin, off Orissa, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The area is vast and abounds with a multitude of research, survey, exploration and support vessels, with flags and crew of many different nationalities.

While all are important, the critical production infrastructure is the process platform where oil and/or gas from the various wells below the sea bed is collected and processed before being pumped ashore through an undersea pipeline. There are 15 process platforms on the West Coast, 13 of which belong to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) and the remaining two to BG Exploration and Production India Limited (BGEPIL). The East Coast has three private sector-owned platforms: Tahara and Sun in the Cauvery basin, and Reliance’s Central Riser Platform in KG D6. Damage to these platforms or the pipeline would stop flow of oil and thus, have a strategic impact. These platforms and pipelines, therefore, merit the highest levels of security.

Threat perceptions have changed since Mumbai High began production under ONGC in 1976. Security was not considered at that time, it was an afterthought. Apart from accident, the only threat envisaged was due to wartime enemy action. This could arise from the sea or from the air, so the government allocated responsibility for air defence to Indian Air Force (IAF) while seaborne threats were to be dealt with by the Indian Navy (IN).

Out of Sight, Out of Mind


 
 
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