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Govt offers 24 blocks for oil hunt

New Delhi, May 8: Nine oil and gas exploration blocks off the east coast and four onland blocks in the north-east are among the 24 blocks for which the government invited global bids today. This is the fourth round of bidding under the new exploration licensing policy (NELP).

Petroleum minister Ram Naik said that the two deep-water blocks in the Andamans have also been thrown open for global bidding for the first time. The defence ministry, which wanted to keep foreign companies out of these two blocks, has conceded the petroleum ministry’s demand to allow global bidding for the blocks.

One block in Nagaland is also being put on offer and oil exploration is expected to pick up in the strife-torn state after a long hiatus. One block each is being offered in Assam, Manipur and Tripura.

The 24 oil and gas blocks include a dozen in the deepwaters.

Of the remaining blocks on offer, 11 are onland blocks while one is a shallow water block off the east coast. Four blocks have been offered in the deep sea off the west coast of the country.

Naik said NELP-IV is being launched in the backdrop of recent “huge” deepwater gas discoveries made in the Krishna-Godavari basin and he expected a better response than the previous rounds. Most of the global oil majors such as Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, BP and TotalFinaElf have not shown any interest in India as it is not viewed as a major upstream hydrocarbon destination.

Only smaller foreign companies such as Cairn Energy of the UK and Niko Resources of Canada have come to India for oil exploration. Indian companies led by ONGC have been the main bidders in the earlier rounds.

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