Vedanta’s Anil Agarwal bets $4 bn on oil hunt amid price surge

India’s Cairn Oil & Gas, a unit of Ltd., will spend as much as $4 billion over the next three years to more than triple its production, as high prices make investments attractive.

India’s biggest non-state producer, controlled by billionaire Anil Agarwal, plans to drill more wells to explore new oil and gas reserves across its 51 blocks in the country, Prachur Sah, deputy chief executive officer of Cairn, said in an interview to Bloomberg TV Friday.

“Our target is to reach half a million production in a very short time by doing these investments,” he said. “This investment is not just a number, but we have projects in line. We are looking at exploration heavily over the next few years to get to these levels.”

Cairn’s plan stands out compared to producers around the world, most of whom are staying away from committing investments in oil and gas and which is leading to a sharp increase in prices as rebounding demand outstrips supply. That’s impacting import-dependent nations such as India, which meets 85% of its oil needs through overseas purchases, and prompting the government to push explorers to expand their oil hunt.

The company produces a quarter of India’s overall oil production and aims to raise the contribution to 50% of the country’s total output, according to its website. Cairn’s average production was at 159,000 barrels of oil equivalent during three months that ended December 31.

“We are working with the government to see how policies can be made conducive in oil and gas, and get the production increased to where it can be sustainable to manage the domestic requirements,” Sah said.

The company has invested about $2.5 billion in the past three years when big producers around the world withheld spendings after fell. Cairn has made a few oil and gas discoveries recently, and expects to strike more as it steps up exploration.

The oil producer remains committed in meeting its carbon-neutral target of 2050 even with increase in fossil fuel production.

“We remain confident that while we increase oil and gas production, it can be done in a sustainable way,” Sah said. “There will be a significant amount of technology and investment in these projects to get to the net-zero ambition by 2050.”

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