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ONGC, OIL top bidders for eleven oil, gas blocks

New Delhi: India's latest oil and gas block bid round attracted only 12 bids for the 11 areas on offer, with 10 of them getting single bids from state-owned ONGC and Oil India Ltd, upstream regulator DGH said.

The government had offered 11 blocks for exploration and production of oil and gas in the fifth bid round under the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OLAP), bids for which closed on June 30.

According to the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), the 11 blocks on offer got a total of 12 bids -- seven bids by Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and four by Oil India Ltd (OIL). Invenire Petrodyne Ltd was the only private bidder.

While ONGC was the sole bidder for six blocks, OIL was the lone bidder in all the four blocks it bid for, DGH said.

The last bid round, OALP-IV, too had seen just eight bids coming in for seven blocks on offer. ONGC had walked away with all the seven oil and gas blocks on offer. OALP-V, which opened in January, was to initially close on March 18, but the bid deadline was thrice extended -- first to April 15, then to June 10, and finally to June 30, in view of the COVID-19 lockdown in the country.

So far, the government has awarded 94 blocks in four OALP bid rounds in the last two-and-a-half years. These 94 blocks cover an exploratory area of about 1,36,800 square kilometres over 16 Indian sedimentary basins.

In the latest bid round, about 19,800 sq km of area was offered for bidding, according to DGH.

OALP-IV was the first round on revamped terms approved in February 2019.

Unlike previous rounds, where blocks were awarded to companies offering a maximum share of oil and gas to the government, blocks in little or unexplored Category-II and III basins are now awarded to companies offering to do maximum exploration programme.

The 11 blocks under OALP-V are spread across eight sedimentary basins and include eight on land blocks (six in Category-I basin and one each in Category II and III basins), two shallow-water blocks (one each in Category-I and II basins) and one ultra-deepwater block (Category-I basin).

At the time of the launch of OALP-V, DGH had stated that the round is expected to "generate immediate exploration work commitment of around USD 400-450 million".

"An area of 1,36,800 sq km has already been awarded under OALP bid round I, II, III, and IV. These OALP bid round-V blocks would add further 19,800 sq km. Overall exploration acreage of India would then increase to 2,36,600 sq km," it had said at that time.

Of the 94 blocks awarded in the first four rounds of OALP, Vedanta has won the maximum at 51. Oil India Ltd has got 21 blocks and ONGC another 17.

Under OALP, companies are allowed to carve out areas they want to explore oil and gas in. Companies

can put in an expression of interest (EoI) for any area throughout the year, but such interests are accumulated thrice in a year. The areas sought are then put on auction.

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