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‘Next oil & gas block auctions under NELP within this fiscal’

The next round of auction of oil and gas blocks under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) will be held by the end of 2015-16 fiscal, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Friday. The minister also said that the government is mulling to introduce “open acreage” system and also plans to change the formula for production sharing agreement. 

“In this financial year, <g data-gr-id="61">only</g> 10th round of auction will be held. We are talking to stakeholders. We are talking to international experts... we are observing the different models of the world (for the NELP-X round),” Pradhan told reporters here. <g data-gr-id="59">NELP-IX</g> auction was conducted in 2012. He said the government is contemplating to make three major changes in the auctioning system that includes abolishing block auctioning by bringing “open acreage” system in which the bidding and award of acreages will be a continuous, demand-based process.

“In NELP-X, there will be three major thrust areas. There are some issues with the current production sharing model. CAG has also made some observations. Looking back into our past experience, we are talking to different stakeholders on how it should be. “Number two is the general acreage policy. Previously there was a block system. Now looking into the new channels acreage system will be open so that anybody can bid for any acreage, according to their own requirement,” Pradhan said.

The government is also planning to allow the bidder or contractor to extract any unconventional hydrocarbons (other than oil and gas) if found, he added. The minister said investors are “happy” with the current gas pricing formula which is reviewed every six months.

He said the state-owned oil companies are currently taking up various projects including a product pipeline from Paradeep to Hyderabad and a gas pipeline from Mumbai to Hyderabad to cater to the needs of Telangana and other southern states’ requirements. According to him the projects, for creating petroleum infrastructure involving various states, would cost nearly Rs 1300 crore for Telangana sector alone.

Earlier, Dharmendra Pradhan visited Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday. During the visit he visited a number of facilities and reviewed the various oil and gas projects in the East Coast of India, both offshore and onshore, the gas pipeline projects, marketing of petroleum products and LPG .

Pradhan was accompanied by a delegation comprising K D Tripathi, Secretary Petroleum, A K Sawhney, Additional Secretary, U P Singh, Joint Secretary (Exploration), S Poundrik, Joint Secretary (Refinery) and DG, Director General of Hydrocarbon B N Talukdar. CMDs and senior officials of  ONGC, <g data-gr-id="71"><g data-gr-id="72"><g data-gr-id="73">HPCL,BPCL,GAIL,OIL</g></g></g> also accompanied him. The Minister took a detailed review of the activities carried out by ONGC in this region, particularly in the Krishna-Godavari Offshore, in Visakhapatnam on June 24. He asked to revitalise exploration and production activities in shallow and deep waters by inducting best technology and imparting requisite training to the employees so as to unlock this potential and monetize it on a fast-track basis. On Thursday, Pradhan visited ISPRL in Visakhapatnam, which is the first Strategic Crude Oil storage facility with 1.33 <g data-gr-id="70">mmt</g> capacity and an engineering marvel by itself.

Later in the day, Minister visited the state-of-the-art Japanese vessel Chikyu, which has been hired by the Government of India for <g data-gr-id="82">gas</g> hydrate exploration campaign in the high sea off Visakhapatnam coast. It is established by international surveys that India has <g data-gr-id="81">huge</g> potential of Gas hydrates. It was observed that if cost-effectively produced, it can be  a game changer and bring a gas revolution in India. Indian experts from DGH, ONGC, OIL, GAIL and several scientific institutions like CSIR, NIOT and NGRI are working in collaboration with scientists from Japan and the US to develop gas hydrate on a commercial scale. Pradhan also visited offshore facilities of  GSPC (a Gujarat Government undertaking) and interacted with the MD and other senior GSPC officials to review the progress of the project. Later in the evening Pradhan, along with Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu reviewed the oil and gas projects in Andhra Pradesh. Pradhan assured the Chief Minister that Centre is committed to <g data-gr-id="75">extend</g> all cooperation to the state government in various proposals initiated by the State Government.

Also, the Minister Pradhan visited Telangana on Thursday. During the <g data-gr-id="66">visit</g> he reviewed the various oil and gas projects in the state of Telangana; marketing of petroleum products and LPG; proposed pipeline projects; Coal Bed Methane projects and performance of Bhagyanagar Gas Ltd. The Minister reviewed the performance of private companies and Joint Ventures who are operating in exploration and production of oil & gas including CBM in the region. Later, while holding a detailed review of marketing, city gas and CSR projects, he observed that people of the state should have ready availability of all kinds of petroleum products and shortage of any kind should be avoided.  
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