State - run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) said on Tuesday that in order to best benefit from low exploration costs resulting from falling international oil prices, the focus should be on exploration in frontier and deep water blocks where the lead period is 7 to 8 years.
"This is a time for reserves - building in areas where the lead time is more than 7 - 8 years and incentivizing exploration activities in frontier and deep water areas, " said ONGC's executive director, exploration, Anand Sahu at the India Energy Forum and Observer Research Foundation - organised Petro India Conference.
"If focus is laid on extensive data acquisition in the unexplored sedimentary basins during the period of global low exploration costs, reserves that will be accreted can be profitably harnessed during the next cycle of boom.
"The investment levels over the next several years in the oil sector will be significantly lower than the previous 10 year annual average in view of fall in oil prices and relationship between oil prices and upstream investment, " he added.
Noting that nearly all the major oil and gas companies have reduced their capital investment budgets for 2015 and are delaying new projects, Sahu said that with oil prices having plunged to below $30 a barrel levels, the capital available for exploring new basins is tightening, which makes it a daunting task for India to reverse the investment trends in upstream sector.
In this connection, he also said that the government has allowed exploration of shale gas and shale oil by ONGC and Oil India.