With its untapped reserves of hydrocarbons and the government’s push to produce oil and natural gases, Barmar district in Rajasthan is witnessing a socio-economic change for the better.

By Anil Sharma

If things go as planned, the desert state of Rajasthan is likely to implement the  dream project – a 9 million tonne per annum refinery cum petrochemical complex at Pachpadra in Barmer district in next 4 years, say before 2023.

Once operational, this over Rs 43,000 crore project is set to change landscape of the state especially of a region-Barmer, which was once described as Kalapani.

The refinery cum petrochemical project is being set up as a joint venture between  HPCL which will hold 74 percent and the state government 26 percent partnership in the new firm to be known as HPCL Rajasthan Refinery Limited (HRRL).

The chief minister Gehlot is taking keen interest in the project and has asked officials to give fast approvals for setting up the Pachpadra refinery.

It was in his (Gehlot’s) earlier tenure of 2008-2013, he had planned this project. According to the chief minister Ashok Gehlot the project will generate direct and indirect employment opportunities in huge numbers, in lakhs likely..

In fact, the last 10 years have been significant for both the state of Rajasthan and for Barmer. The story started in 1995 when Royal Dutch Shell signed a pact with the Government of India to explore and operate RJ-ON-90/1 oil block in Barmer. In 1998, Cairn Energy was owning 10% in the lease, acquired 27% of the project and in 2002, Cairn acquired 100% control of the project.

The story of oil discovery was full of twists and turns. Cairn Energy faced failure in its initial attempts and made the Mangala discovery in 2004 after drilling its 16th well in Barmer. It was the largest discovery in India for 30 years. In 2009, production started at Mangala. The then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, in presence of Cairn Energy’s Founder Sir Bill Gammell, turned the valve for symbolic start of production.

Today, Rajasthan is one of India’s key strategic assets providing more than 30 percent of India’s crude oil requirements and expected to generate US$100 billion of revenues for India,

Cairn Energy invested more than US$6 billion, drilled more than 600 wells and made more than 40 discoveries. Rajasthan is very firmly on the world oil and gas map. The district is now a front-runner in Rajasthan and ranks high on several socio-economic parameters. The industry has contributed to the economic upliftment of the people.

Rajasthan has generated revenues of $US20 billion to Government of India in the ten years of production. The region has been transformed with Barmer now being the second highest generator of GDP in the state of Rajasthan behind capital Jaipur. Currently, oil production of Barmer fields is more than 1 lac 70 thousand barrels per day. Cairn has invested over USD 9 billion in Barmer Basin. The state has received more than USD 5 billion in revenue from this production.

Barmer is perhaps the only district of Rajasthan where the number of Multi Utility Vehicles and Sports Utility Vehicles is greater than the small passenger cars.

Crude oil discovery has opened multiple opportunities for the local entrepreneurs. There are so many ‘Rags to Riches’ stories in Barmer today where the local entrepreneurs started with thousand rupees and later on developed their own business houses earning billions.

In 2004, during a government sponsored survey, Barmer was considered as the district with zero industrial potential. Today, it is among the front runners in terms of industry/business potential

The last 10 years have been significant for both the state of Rajasthan and for the hydrocarbon industry. First Oil production started from Rajasthan in 2009 and the state recently celebrated a glorious decade of production from Mangala oil fields in Barmer. The occasion was a huge milestone for the state of Rajasthan as well as for the country. At an event celebrating the milestone, The then Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot assured the companies of all the required assistance in further exploration and production of oil and gas from the region. Remarking that the discovery of oil had brought cheers to the once-backward Barmer, the Chief Minister said that all economic and social indicators had improved significantly since the discovery and subsequent production of hydrocarbons.

The region of Barmer has undergone a sea change in the last decade and Cairn has contributed in a significant way to the growth of the oil & gas industry in the state. Since 2009, Mangala oil field alone has contributed 414 million barrels of crude to India, while Rajasthan state has cumulatively produced 532 million barrels and contributed a royalty of Rs.33,500 crore to the Government of Rajasthan.

The company, which is part of the Vedanta Group, now plans to invest over $ 1.1 billion in coming 18 months to improve the crude oil production from the Mangla, Bhagyam and Aishwarya fields in Barmer.

Cairn Oil & Gas today contributes almost a quarter of India’s crude oil production and a large part of it comes from our operations in the Barmer region of Rajasthan.

Today, Barmer is a shining example of how the discovery of natural resources such as oil and gas and the presence of a responsible corporate entity such as Cairn Oil & Gas, can transform the region and the lives of people living there. The district is now a front-runner in Rajasthan and ranks high on several socio-economic parameters. The industry has contributed to the economic upliftment of the people and added to Rajasthan’s progress through tax and profits to the state exchequer.

In the period between 2009-2019, the per-capita income in Barmer witnessed a 650% rise, the highest in Rajasthan. The transformation that took place on the ground was visible for all to see – from having one bank branch and one automobile showroom,

Barmer now boasts of having all major banks and most auto manufacturers’ presence in the district. Healthcare, a key indicator of prosperity and well-being, saw a marked shift during this period. While a majority of childbirths were earlier assisted by midwives, 80-90 percent of them now take place in hospitals. With intervention in the areas of sanitation, the Barmer district hospital ranks as one of the best in the state.

Back in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set a target to bring down India’s import dependence on oil and gas by at least 10 per cent by 2022. Cairn’s vision is to increase its contribution from ~25 percent to 50 percent of India’s crude oil & gas production. With a target of eventually producing 500,000 boepd, Cairn will be a key contributor to economic prosperity and energy independence for India in the natural resources sector, if approvals are given on time.

Rajasthan will play a key role in the energy security of the country with vast, untapped reserves of hydrocarbons.