Vedanta Limited, a private sector oil and natural gas exploration company, would soon start exploring Tripura along with Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO).
A letter from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to Tripura Chief Secretary LK Gupta said the Government of India has signed 55 revenue sharing contracts with companies who were awarded Petroleum Exploration blocks under the first round of Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) and Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) for exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas.
“One exploration block has been awarded to Vedanta Limited for exploration and production in the state of Tripura. Vedanta Limited is required to apply to the state government for grant of Petroleum Exploration Licences (PELs),” the letter reads.
The petroleum ministry has also asked Tripura to facilitate speedy clearance for smooth flow of investment in the project.
ONGC started drilling in Tripura way back in 1962. The apex nationalised oil and gas exploration agency planned to set up Rs 5,000 crore gas-based Urea fertilizer plant in Khubal area of North Tripura district. An agreement was signed with Rajasthan-based Chambal Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd. But the project didn’t finally fly due to shortage of gas reserves.
Later in 2012, ONGC set up a joint venture with Government of Tripura – ONGC Tripura Power Company and launched a 726.6 MW thermal power project at Palatana in Gomati district, 55 km from here.
State-run NEEPCO has also set up two major gas thermal power projects at Manarchak in Sepahijala district and RK Nagar in West Tripura.
The entry of a private player in the state, which was previously estimated to have huge natural gas reserves, is likely to disrupt the existing gas-based business scenario. However, ONGC Tripura Asset officials declined to comment on the issue.