Centre extends bid deadline for oil, gas blocks

India government has further extended the deadline for submitting bids for 28 upstream oil and gas blocks in the ninth Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) bidding round to 15 July.

This is the second such extension in this bidding round under the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy’s OALP. The ninth bidding round was announced on 3 January and bids were initially due by 29 February. The deadline was then extended to 15 May.

The government did not provide a specific reason for extending the deadline. But a lack of investor interest could be behind the delay, said market participants, adding that declining crude production and a tax policy that is hard to navigate have kept interest in exploration limited to domestic participants. India’s crude and condensate production was at 589,000 b/d in April 2023-March 2024, down by 24pc from 2013-14.

Of the 28 blocks offered, nine are onshore blocks, eight shallow-water blocks and 11 ultra-deepwater blocks across eight sedimentary basins, with an area of 136,596.45 km². The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DHG) “carved out” five of these blocks, while the remaining 23 blocks are based on expressions of interest received from companies during April 2022-March 2023.

The government had made offshore acreage of more than 1mn km² available for exploration and production operations off the west coast, east coast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which were earlier called “no-go” areas. About 560,000km² will come under exploration by the end of 2024 after the ninth and tenth blocks are awarded.

The tenth bidding round under the OALP will be launched as soon as the ninth round is completed and will have more “no go” areas available for exploration.

India has held eight OALP rounds and awarded 144 exploration and production blocks comprising a total area of 242,055km². State-controlled upstream firm ONGC won seven blocks in the eighth licensing round, while a private-sector consortium of India’s Reliance Industries and BP, state-controlled upstream firm Oil India and private-sector Sun Petrochemicals received one block each.

The government introduced the OALP in 2017 to attract oil and gas firms to develop India’s upstream sector. The OALP guarantees marketing and pricing freedom with a revenue-sharing model, apart from offering reduced royalty rates.

Tags: Blocks, India, OALP, Oil and Gas
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