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Deora launches NELP-VII

Special Correspondent

Roadshows for 57 oil and gas blocks on offer to begin next month


Bids will close on April 11, 2008

$3.5-4 b in revenue expected


— PHOTO: V. SUDERSHAN

OFF THE BLOCK: Murli Deora (right), Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, with M. S. Srinivasan, Secretary, Petroleum and Natural Gas, launching the NELP-VII in New Delhi on Thursday.

NEW DELHI: The Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Murli Deora, on Thursday launched the seventh round of the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) offering 57 oil and gas blocks to national and international players with a revenue expectation of around $3.5-4 billion in the latest gas hunt.

Of the 57 oil and gas blocks, nine are in shallow water, 19 in deep-sea and 29 on-land. The bids for NELP-VII would close on April 11, 2008, and the entire process would be completed within six months, Petroleum Secretary, M. S. Srinivasan, told newsmen here.

Mr. Deora said this was the largest ever offering and the Government was expecting a good response from even those global players who had stayed away from the earlier rounds. He also indicated that India-born billionaire LN Mittal had also evinced keen interest in bidding for NELP VII and hoped that companies such as Shell and Chevron would also grab the opportunity. The government, in the previous six rounds, awarded 162 blocks with an investment commitment of over three phases of exploration and production totalling $8.33 billion. Of this, the largest commitment of $3.32 billion was received in NELP-VI where 52 out of 55 blocks on offer were grabbed.

Mr. Deora said unlike in the previous rounds, the maximum number of deep-sea blocks was on the West coast — nine off Mumbai, four off Gujarat and two off Kerala-Konkan. Three of the deep-sea blocks were in the prolific Krishna Godavari basin off the Andhra coast and one lies offshore Andaman Nicobar Islands. The shallow water blocks are in Mumbai offshore (six) and KG basin (three) while the on land blocks are located in Assam-Arakan, Purnea, Bengal, Ganga valley, Satpura-Rewa, Vindhyan, Rajasthan, Cambay, Palar and Cauvery basins.

Of the total committed investment of $8.33 billion received in the six previous rounds of NELP, $3.887 billion had already been spent by the oil and gas companies till March 2007. Mr. Deora said promotional roadshows for NELP-VII were planned in Mumbai, London, Houston, Calgary, Singapore and Perth. “All geo-scientific data have been made available online and data centres have been set up in Delhi, London, Houston, Perth and Calgary,” he said.

Officials said the bid evaluation criteria (BEC) has been changed to give more weightage to companies having experience in deep-sea exploration and production. While for on land blocks, the criteria have been relaxed to make almost anyone eligible for deep-sea. The effort is to make domestic companies to tie-up with experienced foreign players.

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