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Oil hunt windfall for ONGC, Reliance

New Delhi, Nov 25: Reliance Industries and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation bagged a large number of the 23 oil exploration blocks awarded today.

The total investment in the blocks is expected to be about $415 million in the first phase and about $1.05 billion in the other three phases of exploration.

The government cleared 23 blocks eight onshore, six shallow-water and nine deep-water at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.

A consortium of Reliance and Hardy Exploration and Production (India) Incorporated was awarded two shallow- water blocks in the Krishna-Godavari region and seven in deep- water.

The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) won nine blocks on its own five onshore, three shallow-water and one deep-water.

Other proposals approved at the meeting are: a transmission system for the Rihand II power station that will benefit states in northern India; and construction of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Barmulla rail line by Konkan Railway Corporation and Indian Railway Construction Company.

The power transmission project, to cost Rs 1044.44 crore, will be funded through internal resources of the Powergrid Corporation of India and domestic borrowings or issue of bonds.

The Cabinet committee also approved extension of the accelerated generation and supply programme for the power sector in a modified from till March 2007. Under the programme, state governments get loans from the Power Finance Corporation provided they undertake reforms.

The interest subsidy on loans has been reduced under the programme from 4 to 3 per cent. But the Northeast region will continue to get subsidy at 4 per cent.

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