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Former foreign secretary Shyam Saran may be appointed to oil panel

NEW DELHI: Former foreign secretaryShyam Saran may be appointed as member of a panel headed by economist Vijay Kelkarthat is preparing roadmap for enhancing domestic oil and gas production. 

Kelkar suggested inclusion of Saran, who is currently a member of National Security Advisory Board, in the panel to get inputs from national security view point as well as on issues pertaining to acquisition of overseas oil and gas assets, official sources said. 

Last month, Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily had appointed Raghuram Rajan, the Chief Economic Adviser in 
Finance Ministry, and A K Jain, Advisor (Energy) in Planning Commission as member to the Kelkar panel. 

The panel is to prepare a roadmap for enhancing domestic production of oil and gas so as to substantially reduce the nation's import dependency by 2030. 

India currently imports 80 per cent of its oil needs and about half of its natural gas requirement. Moily wants to cut down reliance on imports to half by 2020 and becoming self reliance by 2030. 

The Kelkar Committee, which also comprises 
Deepak Parekh, Chairman of Housing Development Finance Corporation; Vikram Mehta, former Chairman of Shell India; R S Sharma, former chairman of ONGC, Arindam Bhattacharya of Boston Consulting Group; S V Rao, former Director (Exploration) of ONGC and Ajit Kapadia of the Hindustan Oil Exploration Company ( HOEC), is to submit its report by August. 

Sources said the panel has had three meetings. The panel has been asked to suggests steps to be taken for enhancing domestic oil and gas production from the unconventional energy sources and institutional mechanism (required) for appraisal of Indian sedimentary basins to the extent of 75 per cent by 2015 and 100 per cent by 2025. 

Unconventional energy sources include those like shale gas and coal bed methane ( 
CBM) which most believe alone cannot be enough to raise domestic output. 

Conventional crude oil and natural gas are considered key to the nation becoming self-reliant and the terms of reference (TOR) of the committee would need to be expanded to include these. 

Also the panel has been asked to suggest "utilisation of Oil Industry Development Board (
OIDB) cess and other innovative resource mobilisation approaches for appraising the unexplored /partly explored acreages and development and promotion of Indigenous service industry in E & P sector." 

The Committee would also review institutional mechanism for acquisition of oil and gas assets abroad as well as pursuing diplomatic and political initiatives for import of gas from neighbouring and other countries with emphasis on transnational gas pipelines.