India’s upstream company Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has announced plans to double its oil and gas production to 12 billion tonnes per year by 2020.

N Lal, ONGC’s director for technical and field services said most of the new output will come from offshore fields. More than two thirds of the country’s 6 billion tonnes production this year came from offshore operations.

Mr Lal said ONGC was hiring two high capacity foreign rigs to undertake deep-water oil and natural gas drilling operations in the country’s east and west coasts.

“We now have some rigs capable of drilling in water depths of 300-400 meters. But we need to drill up to 2,000 to 3,000 meters with some of the deeper water fields,” he added.

ONGC has signed to hire one 2,000-metre rig from Trans Ocean Sedco Forest of the US, and a 3,000-metre rig from Dolphin Rig Company of Norway. Drilling operations with these rigs, which will cost a total of Rs40 million will begin in December. (US$1=Rs45).