Oil & Gas

08 Jan 2024

India Inks Contracts for 13 Hydrocarbon Blocks

08 Jan 2024  by rigzone   

India signed contracts for 13 hydrocarbon blocks opened for bidding in the last two years.
India’s Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has signed contracts for 13 hydrocarbon blocks opened for bidding in the last two years.

Of the new contracts, 10 came from the 2023 Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) Bid Round VIII, which offered 34,364 square kilometers (13,268.02 miles). Three were under the 2022 Special Coalbed Methane (CBM) Bid Round, which opened 5,817 square kilometers (2,245.96 miles).

In India the OALP allows companies to carve out development areas of their choice based on resource data at the National Data Repository (NDR), which stores exploration and production research results for Indian sedimentary basins. They then submit expressions of interest (EOIs), in a process done any time without waiting for a bidding round. These EOIs form the basis of biannual OALP bidding rounds.

CBM bidding meanwhile is for producers seeking to extract natural gas from coal.

Under the eighth round of the OALP, 13 companies made offers for the 10 blocks put forward. Four companies emerged successful, committing a total of $233 million for exploration work, the government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) said in a recent press release.

The 10 blocks are “spread across 9 Sedimentary Basins and included 2 Onland blocks (both in Category-I Basin), 4 Shallow Water blocks (1 in Category-I and 3 in Category II/III Basins), 2 Deep Water blocks (both in Category II/III Basins) and 2 Ultra Deep-Water blocks (1 in Category-I and 1 in Category-II Basin)”, the media announcement stated.

In the Special CBM round, 16 blocks were offered, spread across seven states. Only three blocks got bidders. Of the six companies that made submissions, only two won awards, for a total area of 717 square kilometers (276.84 miles). Pledges for exploration work from the successful bidders totaled $7.4 million.

Simultaneously the petroleum ministry opened applications for the ninth round of the OALP. Twenty-eight blocks straddling 136,596 square kilometers (52,740.01 miles) are on offer. These blocks already received expressions of interest in 2022 and 2023, the ministry’s Directorate General of Hydrocarbons said in a separate news release.

Many of the Round 9 offshore blocks are in hydrocarbon-rich areas earlier inaccessible for exploration due to restrictions by different agencies, according to the PIB statement.

Bidders have until February 29 to make submissions.

“[I]t is estimated that after award of blocks under forthcoming OALP-IX and X Bid Rounds, about 5,60,000 Sq. Km. area [16 percent of Indian sedimentary basins] will come under exploration by end of year 2024”, the PIB news release said.

“[V]ast offshore acreage of more than 1 Million Sq. Km. [386,102.16 miles] has been made available in recent past for E&P [exploration and production] operations which were earlier so called ‘No-Go’ areas”, the PIB said citing Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Shri Hardeep Singh Puri. Only 10 percent of Indian sedimentary basins are under active exploration, the minister said.

“There is also continued focus on greater transparency and streamlined procedures”, the PIB added.

India adopted the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) in March 2016 with reforms that include lower royalty rates, marketing and pricing freedom and a revenue sharing model.

“Now, with the award of 10 more blocks under Round-VIII, a total of 144 exploratory blocks have been awarded under HELP regime covering an area of 2,42,055 Sq. Km [93,457.96 miles]”, the PIB said.

“Several initiatives have been taken by the Government for making available good quality data of Indian Sedimentary Basins to investors, such as National Seismic Program (NSP) in Onshore areas, EEZ [exclusive economic zone] Survey in Offshore areas, opening of Andaman Basin, upgradation of NDR, etc.”, it added.

“Other initiatives planned are Mission Anveshan Project (Part II of NSP), Continental Shelf Survey, drilling of Stratigraphic Wells and Hydrocarbon Resource Reassessment Study”.

“Investors outreach program has also been aggressively taken up through organizing Investors Meet at prominent global locations and International Conferences”, the PIB said.

“Several IOCs [international oil companies] have visited NDR and purchased large volume of E&P Data for analysis”.

All approvals for the exploration and production sector have also been made online, it noted.


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