The three-member committee will be headed by BN Talukar, Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, and will have the financial advisor and a director from the ministry.

The panel will inquire into delay in developing fields by Oil and Natural Gas Corp in the block KG-DWN-98/2 or KG-D5, and submit its report by end-October, sources said.

ONGC's KG-D5 sits next to Reliance Industries' eastern offshore KG-DWN-98/3 or KG-D6 block in Bay of Bengal. Both blocks were awarded in the first round of auction under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) in 2000.

While RIL began oil production from its KG-D6 block in September 2008 and gas output in April 2009, ONGC, which has made 11 oil and gas discoveries in KG-D5 block, is at least four years away from first gas. The ministry now wants to investigate the reasons for the delay.

ONGC Chairman and Managing Director Dinesh K Sarraf welcomed constitution of the committee and said the company will extend all cooperation in the investigation.

He said gas production from the block is planned to begin in 2018 and oil output in 2019.

KG-D5 will produce up to 90,000 barrels per day (4.5 million tonnes per annum) - the largest from any field on the east coast. ONGC will produce 17 million standard cubic meters per day of gas from the block.

"We plan to put to production discoveries in northern part of the block together with finds in a neighbouring block," he said, adding that the company is working on a field development plan which will detail investment required.

KG-D5 is divided into a Northern Discovery Area (NDA) and Southern Discovery Area (SDA).

NDA holds an estimated 92.30 million tonnes of oil reserves and 97.568 billion cubic metres of inplace gas reserves spread over seven fields.

ONGC bought 90 percent interest in Block KG-DWN-98/2 from Cairn Energy India Ltd in 2005. Cairn subsequently relinquished its remaining 10 percent interest in favour of ONGC.

Before selling most of its stake and giving away operatorship of the block, Cairn made four discoveries in the area Padmavati, Kanakdurga, N-1 and R-1 (Annapurna).

Subsequently, ONGC made six significant discoveries - E-1, A1, U1, W1, D-1 and KT-1 in NDA and the first ultra- deepwater discovery UD-1 at a record depth of 2,841 metres.

The NDA comprises discoveries like Padmawati, Kanadurga, D, E, U, A, while the ultra deepsea UD find lies in SDA.

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