Dharmendra Pradhan seeks foreign capital in smaller fields

The small and marginal fields offered for bidding from 25 May this year have an in-place reserve of 85 million tonnes of crude oil and are spread across nine sedimentary basins


Dharmendra Pradhan has assured investors of every possible support, said an official statement on the minister’s two-nation trip to woo investors in Singapore and UK that began on 9 September. Photo: Mint
Dharmendra Pradhan has assured investors of every possible support, said an official statement on the minister’s two-nation trip to woo investors in Singapore and UK that began on 9 September. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan has urged the oil and gas industry in Britain to invest in 67 small and marginal fields that India has put on auction and to supply technology that will optimise fuel production as India seeks to lower its import dependence on hydrocarbons from 77% to 67% by 2022.

Pradhan has assured investors of every possible support, said an official statement on the minister’s two-nation trip to woo investors in Singapore and UK that began on 9 September.

An oil ministry official, who asked not to be named, said Pradhan is expected to meet business leaders in Aberdeen in Scotland, considered the oil capital of Europe, later in the trip. UK’s BP Plc. and Vedanta Resources Plc.-owned Cairn India Ltd are already present in India.

The government is keen to further boost ties with the UK after its decision to exit the EU by a 23 June referendum. Both the nations have already agreed to start talks for a free trade agreement (FTA). Britain is India’s 12th largest trading partner and the third largest investor in India with $23 billion in investment between April 2000 and March 2016.

The statement said the Indian government is keen to enhance hydrocarbon production, attract capital and technology and create new jobs. Towards this, transparency in the regulatory regime has been increased and administrative discretion reduced, said the statement.

The small and marginal fields offered for bidding from 25 May this year have an in-place reserve of 85 million tonnes of crude oil and are spread across nine sedimentary basins. Those who win these blocks will get pricing and marketing freedom for oil and gas. A 20% cess, which is normally applicable on crude oil production, too is waived in the case of these fields.

India has been scaling up its engagement with nations with either expertise in exploration and production of natural resources or have hydrocarbon assets to offer for equity participation. The government has already held investor meetings in Houston, Calgary and Dubai to market the fields on offer.

“These 67 small fields were discovered long back but could not be monetised mainly due to restrictions in government policies. Now, progressive policies have been ushered in and private and foreign investments are being proactively facilitated,” the statement said, quoting Pradhan. The new policy is based on a transparent revenue sharing contract model which replaced a complex profit sharing model.

Anish De, partner and head of oil & gas, KPMG in India said energy cooperation between India and the UK had historically been strong and that some of the biggest hydrocarbon finds in India have been made by British companies like Cairn.

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