Govt awards 44 oil, gas blocks; attracts $1.5 bn investment

Govt awards 44 oil, gas blocks; attracts $1.5 bn investment


New Delhi: The government today awarded 44 oil and gas exploration blocks, with the maximum going to ONGC and its partners and first timers BHP Billiton-GVK Power, to attract $1.5 billion investment in an attempt to cut reliance on imported energy.

Of the 45 blocks that received bids in the seventh round of auction under New Exploration Licensing Policy, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) did not award a deepwater block in Mumbai basin to Cairn Energy India as it found the low bid by the sole bidder “detrimental to the government’s interest in future in terms of profit petroleum."

Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chavan, briefing reporters on CCEA decision, said the production sharing contracts (PSCs) for the 44 block would be signed in a month.

A total of 57 blocks were offered in the auction but bids were received only for 45, with about $1.49 billion minimum investment committed in exploration spend, Petroleum Secretary R S Pandey said.

ONGC and partners bagged the maximum number of 20 oil and gas exploration blocks offered by India in its largest ever international bid round that closed on 30 June. First timers BHP Billiton and GVK Power emerged winners in seven deepsea blocks.

Reliance Industries forged an alliance with British Petroleum Plc but could manage only one Krishna-Godavari basin block.

Pandey said the government was considering bringing a next edition of bid round, NELP-VIII in February 2009. “Blocks are under finalisation and we hope to come out with NELP-VIII in February."