The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Oil hunt winners get prizes

New Delhi, Jan. 15: The empowered committee of secretaries today approved the winning bids for the 52 oil and gas blocks that were up for sale in the sixth round of the new exploration licensing policy (Nelp-VI).

These include the 19 blocks for which the bids were initially considered as financially “erratic”.

The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has bagged 25 blocks, including 12 deep-sea ones, the most by any bidder. OIL and its partners have been recommended for seven, the highest for the company under Nelp. Reliance Industries got seven deep-sea blocks, while Australia’s Santos bagged two.

Of the six shallow-water blocks, ONGC and its partners get three and Focus-Newbury, Petronas and Petrogas one each.

ONGC and its partners are set to get 10 on-land blocks. GSPC and Adani will get two each and Naftogaz-RNRL one.

In case of 19 bids, it was found that the government’s share of profit oil started from a high of 90 per cent and dwindled to one or two per cent.

Though the bids were technically correct, objections were raised as in some cases the government's share fell to zero as production increased.

Although the secretaries approved the award, it is not yet clear whether the Centre will ask these firms to change the government's share.

Officials said the secretaries had deliberated on the winning bids on November 23 last year but deferred a decision due to “erratic financial bids”.

In Nelp-VI, more weight was given to the financial compensation to the government unlike in earlier rounds where the focus was on the work programme.

The empowered committee on November 23 overruled the recommendations of the directorate general of hydrocarbons (DGH), the upstream regulator, on the blocks.

The DGH, in its recommendation, had opposed the award of blocks to ONGC due to its “poor” track record. However, the committee, comprising officials from the ministries of petroleum, finance and law, did not agree with the directorate.

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.

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