Oil Production Slips In December; Natural Gas On Rise

India’s production of crude oil, which is refined to produce petrol and diesel, continued to decline in December 2021, with lower output from state-owned ONGC leading to a near 2 per cent drop, official data showed on Wednesday.

Oil production in December 2021 was 2.51 million tonnes, down from 2.55 million tonnes a year earlier and a target of 2.6 million tonnes. The output was, however, higher than 2.43 million tonnes production in November 2021.

State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) – India’s biggest producer, produced 3 per cent less crude oil at 1.65 million tonnes in December due to delays in mobilising equipment at western offshore fields. Oil India Ltd (OIL) produced 5.4 per cent more crude oil at 2,54,360 tonnes.

India is 85 per cent reliant on imports to meet its crude oil needs as domestic output is insufficient to meet the demand.

During April-December – the first nine months of the current fiscal year – crude oil production fell 2.63 per cent to 22.3 million tonnes. ONGC produced 4 per cent less oil at 14.6 million tonnes.

Natural gas production, however, rose by almost a fifth to 2.89 billion cubic meters (bcm) in December, mainly due to output from newer fields in the KG-D6 block, operated by Reliance Industries Ltd and BP plc.

ONGC produced 5.42 per cent less gas at 1.75 bcm, while the output from eastern offshore – where KG-D6 is situated – jumped 515 per cent to 593.5 million cubic meters.

The data did not give individual field output.

Reliance-BP in 2020 started gas production from newer fields in the KG-D6 block.

During April-December, India’s gas output rose 21.5 per cent to 25.6 bcm. While ONGC output was 6 per cent lower year-on-year, eastern fields production surged 1,049 per cent to 5.05 bcm. ONGC produced 12.5 per cent less than the target for the first nine months of the current fiscal.

With economic activity rebounding after a devastating second wave of COVID-19, refineries turned 2 per cent more crude oil into fuel in December and 10.5 per cent more during April-December. They processed 21.4 million tonnes of crude oil in December and 177.2 million tonnes in the first nine months of the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. 

Refineries operated at 101 per cent of their installed capacity in December. During April-December, the run-rate was 85.18 per cent, mostly because of lower capacity operations during the earlier part of the year when the COVID-19 second wave pummeled the economy, crushing fuel demand.

Refineries produced 6 per cent more petroleum products in December at 22.75 million tonnes when compared to the year-ago period. During April-December, the petroleum production output was 10 per cent more at 186 million tonnes. 


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