Indian oil explorer and producer Oil and Natural Gas Corp. said on Aug. 17 it signed a heads of agreement with global petroleum giant Exxon Mobil Corp. for deepwater exploration in the country’s East and West coasts.

The two oil explorers would focus on the Krishna Godavari and Cauvery basins in the eastern offshore and the Kutch-Mumbai region in the western offshore, ONGC said in a release.

India, the world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer, ships in over 85% of its oil needs from overseas. The country wants to quickly monetize its oil and gas resources to reduce its reliance on costly imports.

ONGC's head of exploration Rajesh Kumar Srivastava said his company is looking for a “long-lasting partnership with Exxon.”

“Through the discovery route, ONGC hopes to move to development wherein the inherent strength of Exxon Mobil would be beneficial for efficient fast-track monetization,” he said.

Exxon Mobil has been looking to buy a stake in local deepwater fields of ONGC for some time.

India’s crude oil production fell 1.6% to about 600,000 bbl/d (2.44 million tonnes) in June, dipping over 4% versus the previous month.