New Delhi: India will offer for auction more oil and gas exploration blocks by 2010, and introduce an “open acreage” system that allows firms to carve out areas they want to drill, the upstream regulator said on Tuesday.
V.K. Sibal told reporters the eighth round of India’s New Exploration Licencing Policy (NELP) would be launched in the second half of 2009-10.
Previous rounds have helped firms such as Reliance Industries Ltd and Cairn Energy Ltd discover oil and gas in the energy-starved country, but Western oil majors have largely stayed away because of tax issues and doubts about the quality of blocks offered.
Analysts and officials say some firms would prefer to study the data and delineate the area they want to bid for instead of depending on the government to prepare the exploration block.
“For open acreage, we have to create a national data repository. You have to have data from all the blocks that have been drilled so far,” Sibal said.
He said that by end-December the government would appoint a consultant for the data repository.
Sibal also said the government would offer blocks for coal bed methane by the end of December.