Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and French oil major TotalEnergies have agreed on a framework to explore deep-water blocks in India.

Under the memorandum of understanding (MoU), the French firm will offer technical aid for ONGC’s efforts to explore deep-water blocks, especially in Mahanadi and Andaman off India’s east coast.

Said to be the world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer, India imports more than 85% of its oil from overseas.

To reduce dependence on costly imports, India is looking to quickly monetise its oil and gas resources.

ONGC exploration director Sushma Rawat was quoted by Reuters as saying: “We will jointly evaluate exploration and development opportunities to create synergies with local economies.”

In August 2022, ONGC and ExxonMobil agreed to undertake oil and gas exploration on the east and west coasts of India.

The two firms will carry out exploration work, focusing on the Krishna Godavari and Cauvery basins in the eastern offshore area, and the Kutch-Mumbai region in the western offshore area.

At that time, ONGC exploration director Rajesh Kumar Srivastava said: “Through the discovery route, ONGC hopes to move to development wherein the inherent strength of ExxonMobil would be beneficial for efficient, fast-track monetisation. This will enable ONGC to ensure steps towards energy security for India.”

Exxon was also considering purchasing stakes in some of ONGC’s local deepwater blocks, reported Reuters, citing Indian former oil secretary Tarun Kapoor.