Millennium Post

OALP-1 contracts inked for 55 blocks... 41 go to Vedanta

New Delhi: In a significant move to increase the E&P activities in the country, the Government of India on Monday cleared 55 blocks with six companies under Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) Bid Round-I, across the 11 sedimentary basins of the country.

This will increase 65 per cent exploration activities, the ministry claimed. Initially, 110 e-bids were received for 55 blocks on offer with participation from 9 companies. Finally, contracts have been signed with 6 companies.

At the exploration stage, the search for hydrocarbons beneath the ground entails geophysical prospecting for shale formations that hold deposits of oil and natural gas. "This move will add a huge accretion of 59,282 to the exploration area," a government release mentioned.

Exploration and production (E&P) are known as the upstream segment of the oil and gas industry.

In addition, the contract of 41 blocks has been signed with Vedanta Limited, 1 with Bharat Petro Resources Limited, 1 with GAIL(India) Limited, 1 with Hindustan Oil Exploration Company Limited, 9 with Oil India Limited, and 2 with ONGC.

While addressing the programme, oil and gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan said, "This is a phenomenal progress from the era of policy bottlenecks and indecision as contracts for last NELP IX bidding round was signed six years ago in 2012. In the near future, we will award another 40 blocks through OALP-II and OALP-III."

He further mentioned that the government is committed to enhancing domestic hydrocarbon production by facilitating the industry with the best possible technologies and skills. "Our Govt. has approved Policy framework to promote and incentivize Enhanced Recovery (ER) for augmenting domestic production of oil and gas. As providing affordable energy to the citizen is the prime responsibility of the incumbent government, we are also focusing on alternative fuels like Biofuels and Compressed Bio Gas. Policies are being placed to incentivise domestic production of energy," the minister mentioned.

According to the government data, India has 26 sedimentary basins with a basinal area of 3,134,700 sq. km, till the late nineties of the previous century the Indian E&P scenario was primarily dominated by the two National Oil Companies namely The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and the Oil India Limited (OIL). For the first time, the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) was formulated by the Government of India, with Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) as a nodal agency, during 1997-98 to provide a level playing field to both Public and Private sector companies in exploration and production of hydrocarbons. "The Government of India has so far completed nine rounds of the offer of acreages under NELP wherein 360 exploration blocks have been offered and 254 blocks have been awarded till 31.03.2014. (Oil and Oil-Equivalent Gas (O+OEG) in place reserve accretion under NELP is approximately 745 (MMT)," National Data Repository mentioned.

The minister further added that the companies have committed investment of about Rs 6000 crore for exploring under this round. He said there is huge potential in these reserves and their exploration will positively impact the Indian economy. "The Government is working in a transparent manner, and policies are being made, after extensive consultation with all stakeholders," Pradhan mentioned.

The Secretary (P&NG) M. M. Kutty, V. P. Joy, Director General- Directorate General of Hydrocarbons and other senior officials of the ministry were also present at the event at Hotel Taj Mansingh in the national capital.

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