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Aug 30, 2009

India’s biggest oil find in decades is now on stream but the country, with its rapidly growing economy, will still be one of the hungriest consumers of foreign crude, analysts say.

Cairn surprised the world in 2004 with the discovery of the Barmer field in an area written off by Anglo-Dutch giant Shell.

The field contains some 3.5 billion barrels of oil of which it is technically feasible to recover at least one billion barrels.

Edinburgh-based Cairn expects the discovery to raise India’s oil output by at least 20 percent based on current production.

But the increased production, expected to come fully on stream in 2011, will come nowhere near to plugging the crude supply gap in Asia’s third-largest economy, analysts say.

Already among the world’s top 10 oil importers, India is expected to become the world’s fourth-largest by 2025, according to US government data.

The Indian government has been staging roadshows internationally to seek bids for the right to look for oil and natural gas in parts of the country as it plans India’s largest-ever auction of 70 exploration blocks.

“All of these explorations are required, but on their own none of these efforts can plug the huge gap that India has in terms of oil consumption,” said Kumar Manish, associate director at global consultancy KPMG.

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