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Panel snubs oil regulator
DEEP DIVIDE
Of the 12 deep sea blocks that were offered under NELP-VI, the consortium of ONGC-GSPC- HPCL-GAIL was clear winner in 11, while ONGC-Cairn India-Tata topped one
DGH was against the award of the blocks to the consortia and recommended “award by negotiations to an international company”
The empowered committee of secretaries overruled DGH recommendations

New Delhi, Nov. 23: An empowered committee of secretaries (ECS) today overruled recommendations of the directorate general of hydrocarbons (DGH), the upstream regulator, on award of exploration blocks under NELP-VI and favoured allotting 12 deep sea blocks to state-run oil firm ONGC.

The DGH, in its recommendation, had opposed the award of blocks to the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation due to its “poor” track record. However, the ECS, comprising officials from the ministries of petroleum, finance and law, did not agree with the directorate, official sources said.

The consortium of ONGC-GSPC-HPCL-GAIL was a clear winner in 11 deep sea blocks, while ONGC-Cairn India-Tata was the top bidder in the Kerala-Konkan basin block. But DGH was against the award of the blocks to the consortium and recommended “award by negotiations to an international company”.

The petroleum ministry opposed the DGH recommendations on the ground that ONGC, as a company, was qualified to bid and had put in the highest bid as a result of which it should be awarded the block. Of the 21 deep sea blocks offered under NELP-VI, Reliance emerged as the highest bidder in seven — two in Krishna Godavari basin and five in Mahanadi basin. Santos International of Australia was recommended for two North-East-Coast (NEC) blocks. ONGC bagged the lion's share of 24 blocks out of the 55 on offer.

Of the six shallow water blocks, one each has been recommended for ONGC, Focus Energy, Cairn-ONGC-Tata and ONGC-BG, while two blocks have been suggested for the consortia of GSPC-IOC-GAIL-HPCL-Petrogas.

Oil India, which had bid for nine blocks as an operator on its own, did not fare well.

Of the 55 blocks on offer, as many as 39 received multiple bids while there were only single bids for 13 blocks. Four blocks, including one in the Andamans, did not find any takers.

Of the 31 Indian companies, Reliance Industries bid for 21 blocks. Reliance Natural Resources, an Anil Ambani group firm, tied up with Naftogaz of Ukraine to bid for nine blocks and with PGNIG of Poland to bid for another three blocks.

Foreign companies such as British Gas and British Petroleum and ENI of Italy have teamed up with ONGC to take a crack at the Indian hydrocarbon blocks. ONGC, OIL and gas major GAIL have also put in bids as partners in the same consortia.

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