Birth of the CompanyONGC was set up during pre-independence, as the Assam Oil Company in the North-East and Attock Oil company in North-West which was part of un-divided India were the only oil companies producing oil in the country. The company was established under the visionary leadership of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. Pandit Nehru also reposed faith in Shri Keshav Dev Malviya who laid the foundation of ONGC in the form of Oil and Gas division, under Geological Survey of India, in 1955. After independence, the Government realized the importance of oil and gas for rapid industrial development and its strategic role in defence. Consequently, while framing the Industrial Policy Statement of 1948, the development of the hydrocarbon industry in the country was considered to be of utmost necessity.
After some days the company changed as Oil and Natural Gas Directorate. The Directorate was converted into Commission and christened Oil and Natural Gas Commission on 14th August 1956. In 1994, Oil and Natural Gas Commission was converted as a Corporation, and in 1997 it was recognized as one of the Navratnas by the Government of India. Subsequently, it has been conferred with Maharatna status in the year 2010.Until 1955, private oil companies mainly carried out exploration of hydrocarbon resources of India. Assam Oil Company was producing oil at Digboi, Assam (discovered in 1889) and the Oil India Ltd. (a 50% joint venture between Government of India and Burmah Oil Company) was engaged in developing two fields Naharkatiya and Moran in Assam.
A delegation under the leadership of Mr. K D Malviya, the then Minister of Natural Resources, visited several countries to study the oil industry and to facilitate the training of Indian professionals for exploring potential oil and gas reserves. Foreign experts from USA, West Germany, Romania and erstwhile USSR visited India and helped the government with their expertise.
ONGC went offshore in early 70's and discovered a giant oil field in the form of Bombay High, now known as Mumbai High. This discovery, along with subsequent discoveries of huge oil and gas fields in Western offshore changed the oil scenario of the country. Subsequently, over 5 billion tonnes of hydrocarbons, which were present in the country, were discovered.
The liberalized economic policy, adopted by the Government of India in July 1991, sought to deregulate and de-license the core sectors (including petroleum sector) with partial disinvestments of government equity in Public Sector Undertakings and other measures. As a consequence thereof, ONGC was re-organized as a limited Company under the Company's Act, 1956 in February 1994.