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Govt verdict on oil-gas blocks: Reliance ‘Go’, ONGC ‘No Go’

In its first decision, the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) on Wednesday cleared Reliance Industries Ltd’s (RIL) producing KG-D6 block and gas discovery area NEC-25, along with three other areas where the Defence Ministry had either barred oil and gas activity or put stringent conditions.

However, state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp’s (ONGC) KG basin blocks KG-OSN-2005/1 and KG-OSN-2005/2 and BG Group’s KG-DWN-2009/1 would remain ‘No-Go’ areas as they fall directly within the boundary of the proposed naval base. The CCI decided that the oil ministry would take steps for termination of the contract.

For Cairn India’s KG-OSN-2009/3 and ONGC’s KG-OSN-2009/4 blocks, only a small portion was cleared as the rest was within the impact zone of IAF’s Suryalanka Guided Weapon Firing Range(GWFR) and Machhlipatnam launch site. In all eight blocks, including RIL’s Krishna Godavari basin KG-D6 block and gas discovery area of NEC-25 in the North East Coast (NEC) region, were declared ‘No-Go’ zones for reasons like overlapping with the proposed Naval base or being close to missile launching and Air Force exercise area. Stringent conditions were put for another 31 exploration areas.

The CCI, which had in January-end asked the ministries of petroleum & natural gas and defence to sort out differences, cleared five of the ‘No-Go’ blocks, official sources said. Three blocks will continue to be No-Go areas.

RIL’s KG-D6, which has been producing oil since September 2008 and gas from April 2009, was fully cleared for oil and gas activity with a total area of 7,645 sq km reduced by 495 sq km to meet defence needs.

Similarly, its NEC-OSN-97/2, where six gas finds have so far been made, was cleared after the portion of the block nearest to the coast was relinquished and the remaining portion was found to be beyond 100 km from the Chandipur Missle launch of DRDO and Balasore air-to-air firing range of the IAF.

RIL’s KG-OSN-2001/1 too was cleared but the block had already been relinquished by the operator, said sources.
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