New Delhi / Singapore: India received bids to explore fewer oil and gas areas than offered after the government withdrew a tax break on some new projects and a shortage of drilling equipment deterred companies.
BHP Billiton Ltd, the world’s largest mining company, BP Plc., BG Group Plc. and Reliance Industries Ltd were among the 96 companies that bid for 45 of the record 57 areas, director general of hydrocarbons V.K. Sibal said on Monday. The oil ministry extended the bidding deadline three times since April, seeking a clarification about the withdrawal of a tax holiday for natural gas projects.
The current round attracted 181 bids for 12 deep-water areas, seven shallow-water areas and 26 onshore blocks, Sibal said at the auction venue. The provisional winners are being named today and the areas will be awarded after three months, he said.
The country had offered nine areas in shallow waters, 19 in deep waters and 29 onshore.
At the previous auction that concluded in March 2007, India received 165 bids from 68 companies for 55 areas, of which contracts were signed for 52, according to the website of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, India’s oil and gas regulator.
BHP Billiton, in partnership with GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd, won drilling rights for seven deep-water areas, the regulator said on Monday. Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd, India’s biggest energy explorer, won three onshore blocks. It also won three deep-water blocks and seven onshore areas in partnership with other companies, including Oil India Ltd, Indian Oil Corp. Ltd and Tata Petrodyne Ltd.
BP and Reliance jointly won a bid for a deep-water area.
India may earn as much as $8 billion (around Rs34,400 crore) from the auction.