New Delhi: India has again pushed back the deadline for bids in its latest and largest licensing round, by three weeks, because clarity on tax proposals unveiled for the energy sector in the budget has yet to emerge, an industry regulator said.
In the budget for 2008-09, Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram announced ending a seven-year tax holiday for the production of mineral oil, which was defined as not to include petroleum and natural gas.
“The deadline has been extended to 16 May. We are waiting for clarity on whether the tax holiday will be there or not,” Vinod K. Sibal, who heads the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, said.
With the Indian parliament still debating budget proposals, companies have asked for a delay in the deadline to ensure greater clarity of rules before they framed their bids.
In March, India had extended the closing date for bid submission by two weeks to 25 April.
India has offered 57 oil and gas blocks under its ongoing auction round, the seventh under the New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP) launched in 1999.
India is wooing private capital for exploration, and encouraging local firms to buy stakes in foreign oil and gas projects to meet the surging energy needs of Asia’s third-largest economy.
Previous NELP rounds have been dominated by local firms, with state-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp bagging 74 blocks from a total of 162 awarded.