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regular-article-logo Saturday, 25 May 2024

Oil hunt in no-go zone under Union government's Open Acreage Licensing Programme

Of the eight blocks up for auction, three are in the Cauvery basin, two each in Saurashtra and Assam Shelf and one in the Cambay basin. While 6 blocks are spread over Category-I basins, the other two are in Category-II

R. Suryamurthy New Delhi Published 16.10.23, 11:35 AM
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The government plans to invite bids for eight oil and gas blocks as part of the Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) regime, which offers pricing and marketing freedom.

It has opened up no-go areas on Indian seas that is under the country’s jurisdiction to prospectors for the first time.

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The ministry of petroleum and natural gas will invite global bids for the blocks spread over 0.42 lakh sq km for the exploration and production (E&P) of hydrocarbons under the OALP bid round IX.

The directorate general of hydrocarbons (DGH) is also looking at the possibility of offering an additional 20 blocks which had evoked initial interest from E&P firms. Officials said if these blocks are also offered it would be one of the largest OALP round since bidding under this scheme began in 2016.

“The government of India has opened 99 per cent of the ‘No-Go’ area of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for hydrocarbon exploration and development. Eight blocks encompassing an acreage of 0.42 lakh sq km have been carved out based on expressions of interest (EoIs) received from potential investors during the EoI window XIII (April 1 to July 31, 2022),” the DGH said.

Of the eight blocks, three are in the Cauvery basin, two each in Saurashtra and Assam Shelf and one in the Cambay basin. While 6 blocks are spread over Category-I basins, the other two are in Category-II.

Category–I basins have proven hydrocarbon resources with established commercial production, while Category–II have contingent resources that are yet to be converted to recoverable reserves and commercial production. Category–III basins have prospective resources with no hydrocarbon discovery and few exploration inputs and data.

In the ninth OALP round, three blocks each are in ultra deep-water (27,154 sq km) and onland (3,666 sq km), while another two blocks are in shallow water (11,039 sq km.).

On the blocks under finalisation, the DGH said: “Around 20 additional EoIs received (August 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023) covering about 95,000 sq km in east coast basins like Krishna-Godavari and Mahanadi and West Coast Basins like Saurashtra, Kutch, Mumbai etc. are under finalisation.”

Under the new OALP bidding round, an upstream player will be allowed to explore both conventional and unconventional oil and gas resources including coal bed methane, shale gas and oil and gas hydrates under a single licence.

In OALP, the contractor will have the freedom for pricing and marketing of gas produced in the domestic market on an arms-length basis. The contractor would also have the freedom to market the gas or oil within the country.

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