August | Friday | 14, 2015 :: Foundation Day :: ONGC [ 14 August 1956 ]
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) is an Indian multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Dehradun, India. It is a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) of the Government of India, under the administrative control of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. It is India’s largest oil and gas exploration and production company. It produces around 69% of India’s crude oil (equivalent to around 30% of the country’s total demand) and around 62% of its natural gas.
Before the independence of India, the Assam Oil Company in the north-eastern and Attock Oil company in north-western part of the undivided India were the only oil producing companies, with minimal exploration input. The major part of Indian sedimentary basins was deemed to be unfit for development of oil and gas resources.
After independence, the Central Government of India realized the importance of oil and gas for rapid industrial development and its strategic role in defense. Consequently, while framing the Industrial Policy Statement of 1948, the development of petroleum industry in the country was considered to be of utmost necessity.
Until 1955, private oil companies mainly carried out exploration of hydrocarbon resources of India. In Assam, the Assam Oil Company was producing oil at Digboi (discovered in 1889) and Oil India Ltd. (a 50% joint venture between Government of India and Burmah Oil Company) was engaged in developing two newly discovered large fields Naharkatiya and Moraan in Assam. In West Bengal, the Indo-Stanvac Petroleum project (a joint venture between Government of India and Standard Vacuum Oil Company of USA) was engaged in exploration work. The vast sedimentary tract in other parts of India and adjoining offshore remained largely unexplored.
In 1955, Government of India decided to develop the oil and natural gas resources in the various regions of the country as part of the Public Sector development. With this objective, an Oil and Natural Gas Directorate was set up towards the end of 1955, as a subordinate office under the then Ministry of Natural Resources and Scientific Research. The department was constituted with a nucleus of geoscientists from the Geological Survey of India.
A delegation under the leadership of the Minister of Natural Resources visited several European countries to study the status of oil industry in those countries and to facilitate the training of Indian professionals for exploring potential oil and gas reserves. Experts from Romania, the Soviet Union, the United States and West Germany subsequently visited India and helped the government with their expertise. Soviet experts later drew up a detailed plan for geological and geophysical surveys and drilling operations to be carried out in the 2nd Five Year Plan (1956-61).
In April 1956, the Government of India adopted the Industrial Policy Resolution, which placed Mineral Oil Industry among the schedule ‘A’ industries, the future development of which was to be the sole and exclusive responsibility of the state.
Soon, after the formation of the Oil and Natural Gas Directorate, it became apparent that it would not be possible for the Directorate with its limited financial and administrative powers as subordinate office of the Government, to function efficiently. So in August, 1956, the Directorate was raised to the status of a commission with enhanced powers, although it continued to be under the government. In October 1959, the Commission was converted into a statutory body by an act of the Indian Parliament, which enhanced powers of the commission further. The main functions of the Oil and Natural Gas Commission subject to the provisions of the Act, were “to plan, promote, organize and implement programs for development of Petroleum Resources and the production and sale of petroleum and petroleum products produced by it, and to perform such other functions as the Central Government may, from time to time, assign to it “. The act further outlined the activities and steps to be taken by ONGC in fulfilling its mandate.