The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Big rush for oil blocks

New Delhi, Sept. 15: State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Oil India Limited (OIL) have put in the most number of bids for the 55 oil and gas blocks under the sixth round of new exploration licensing policy (Nelp 6).

Foreign majors, such as British Gas and British Petroleum and Italy’s ENI, have joined hands with ONGC to tap oil and gas. ONGC, OIL along with GAIL have also bid as a consortia.

There were single bids for 13 blocks and multiple bids for 39, while three, including one in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, attracted no bids.

Other European companies, such as Total of France, are also there as part of a consortia with Indian companies. Most of the 35 foreign companies were smaller firms as bigger MNCs such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron-Texaco and Conoco Philips stayed away.

There were 31 local companies with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries in the fray for 21 blocks and brother Anil’s Reliance Natural Resources for 12, nine with Naftagoz of Ukraine and three with PGNIC of Poland. This was Anil’s maiden entry into oil and gas.

“We have received 165 bids at the close today and 19 new foreign companies have participated in this round,” V.K. Sibal, director-general of hydrocarbons, said.

BG is the lead bidder with ONGC and Coal India for three deep-sea and one shallow water block and is a partner of ONGC for 10 deep-sea, two shallow water offshore and 18 onland blocks.

Malaysia’s Petronas is in for one shallow water block in the Krishna Godavari basin.

BP and ONGC are in the race for two Mahanadi Basin deep-sea blocks, while ENI is the lead partner in two deep-sea, one shallow offshore and two on-land blocks.

RIL is there for 17 deep-sea and two blocks each in shallow water and on-land. RIL and Oil India Ltd (OIL) are partners in one Mahanadi basin deep-sea block.

Cairn Energy of the UK, which is set to deliver oil and gas from Rajasthan, made lead bids for seven blocks on its own and is the junior partner for five others. Sibal said there were 52 bids for the 24 deep water blocks, 24 for the six shallow offshore ones and 89 for the 25 on-land blocks.

Additional secretary in the petroleum ministry Anil Razdan said the 12 frontier on-land blocks, including those in the Northeast and central India, received bids which augurs well for the sector.

The Northeast has fared well with one block in Mizoram receiving as many as seven bids and another in Assam receiving two.

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