In­dia of­fers 23 oil blocks in OALP-III bid round

Millennium Post - - Mp Business -

GREATER NOIDA (UP): In­dia on Sun­day of­fered 23 oil and gas and CBM blocks for bid­ding in the third round of Open Acreage Licensing Pol­icy, ex­pect­ing up to to $700 mil­lion of in­vest­ment that it hoped will help raise do­mes­tic out­put and cut im­ports.

Oil Min­is­ter Dhar­men­dra Prad­han

launched the OALP-III bid round at the Petrotech 2019 con­fer­ence here on the out­skirts of Delhi.

"In OALP-III, 23 blocks in 12 sed­i­men­tary basins are be­ing of­fered. Of these five are coal-bed meth­ane (CBM) blocks. To­tal area on of­fer is about 31,000 square kilo­me­ters," he said. Last date for bid­ding is April 10. OALP-III will run con­cur­rently with OALP-II, where 14 blocks cov­er­ing an area of close to 30,000 sq km is on of­fer for bid­ding, he said, adding that in OALP-I, 55 blocks cov­er­ing an area of 60,000 sq km were of­fered in Jan­uary 2018 and awarded in Oc­to­ber last year.

"In one year, we have added about

?1.2 lakh sq km of area to ex­plo­ration kitty. This com­pares to 90,000 sq km area un­der ex­plo­ration pre­vi­ously," he said, adding the area un­der ex­plo­ration will dou­ble by the time the round ends.

"Our ef­fort is to ac­cel­er­ate ex­plo­ration of all sed­i­men­tary basins of the coun­try," he said.

The third round is ex­pected to "gen­er­ate im­me­di­ate ex­plo­ration work com­mit­ment of around $600-700 mil­lion," a state­ment is­sued at the launch said.

In the first round of OALP last year, as much as Rs 60,000 crore was com­mit­ted in the ex­plo­ration of oil and gas in 55 blocks or ar­eas. The 14 blocks be­ing of­fered in OALP-II bid rounds cover an area of 29,333 square kilo­me­ters, and bids close on March 12 and an­other Rs 40,000 crore in­vest­ment is ex­pected.

Since the Bjp-led NDA came to power in 2014, the govern­ment has held two auc­tions of dis­cov­ered small fields and a sim­i­lar num­ber un­der OALP and the cu­mu­la­tive in­vest­ment com­mit­ted is Rs 1,20,000 crore, of­fi­cials said.

In­dia had in July 2017 al­lowed com­pa­nies to carve out blocks of their choice with a view to bring­ing about 2.8 mil­lion sq km of un­ex­plored area in the coun­try un­der ex­plo­ration.

Un­der OALP, com­pa­nies are al­lowed to put in an ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est (EOI) for prospect­ing of oil and gas in an area that is presently not un­der any pro­duc­tion or ex­plo­ration li­cence. Eois can be put in at any time of the year but they are ac­cu­mu­lated twice an­nu­ally.

The blocks or ar­eas that re­ceive Eois at the end of a cy­cle are put up for auc­tion with the orig­i­na­tor or the firm that orig­i­nally se­lected the area getting a 5-mark ad­van­tage.

The two win­dow of ac­cu­mu­lat­ing Eois end on May 15 and Novem­ber 15 ev­ery year. Eois ac­cu­mu­lated till May 15 are sup­posed to be put on auc­tion by June 30 and those in the sec­ond win­dow by De­cem­ber 31.

The first OALP round was launched in 2017 and bids came in by May 2018. Eois for sec­ond round closed on May 15, 2018 and the blocks were sup­posed to be put for auc­tion by June but the round was de­layed.

In the mean­while, Eois in the third win­dow also closed on Novem­ber 15, 2018 with as many as 18 blocks and five CBM blocks, mea­sur­ing 31,722 sq km, be­ing sought for.

"About 90,000 sq km of In­dia's sed­i­men­tary basin was un­der ex­plo­ration prior to these bid rounds. In two OALP rounds and two dis­cov­ered small field (DSF) rounds, the area un­der ex­plo­ration has more than dou­bled," Prad­han said.

In­creased ex­plo­ration will lead to more oil and gas pro­duc­tion, help­ing the world's third largest oil im­porter to cut im­port de­pen­dence, he added.

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