India’s Reliance halts future oil and gas drilling

MUMBAI, October 17, 2011 (AFP) – India’s energy giant Reliance Industries has suspended drilling at its oil and gas exploration blocks covered under a deal with new venture partner BP pending a review, a company source said on Monday. India’s largest private oil explorer is “re-evaluating” its exploration and production strategy in partnership with the British company but current oil and gas production was unaffected, the source told AFP.

“With BP as our strategic partner, it makes sense to do a fresh review of our portfolio and come back with a new strategy,” the source added, without specifying a timeframe for when new drilling would restart.

“We will re-look to ascertain if we were going the right way,” the source said.

Once completed, the reassessment will be shared with India’s upstream oil and gas regulator, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH).

Reliance, controlled by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, recently concluded a $7.2 billion deal with BP, selling it a 30 percent stake in 21 of its oil and gas fields off the Indian coast.

Reliance hopes BP’s deepwater drilling expertise will increase output from its hard-to-exploit deepwater reserves. BP, meanwhile, will benefit from access to new hyd