Singapore: India may invite bids by April for the seventh oil and gas exploration round as the government offers a record number of areas, said M.S. Srinivasan, secretary to the petroleum ministry.
The government may start marketing as many as 70 exploration areas in October or November, Srinivasan said in Singapore on Thursday.
India is seeking to cut dependence on oil imports that meet 70% of domestic needs. The country may purchase 110.5 million tonnes (mt) of crude oil this year (2.2 million barrels a day), up from 106 million last year, Srinivasan said. Interest in India’s exploration areas soared after Reliance Industries Ltd and Cairn India Ltd made the nation’s biggest discoveries in more than two decades.
“India has proved its potential for exploration,” Srinivasan said. “There is a lot of interest in the new exploration round.”
India may make changes to the production sharing contracts between explorers and the government to protect the state’s share of revenue from oil and gas exploration projects, Srinivasan said, without elaborating.
The government may alter the definition of a discovery to avoid disputes between the regulator and explorers, and change rules to give the government greater control over project costs, Petrodaily, an Indian trade newsletter, reported in July. “We can now afford to negotiate a different set of terms with explorers,” Srinivasan said.
India’s expanding gas reserves gives more bargaining power to the government when negotiating contracts with bidders, he said, declining to confirm Petrodaily’s report.
The government isn’t obliged to offer exploration acreages every year, Srinivasan said.