Govt aims to award oil, gas blocks by March

Govt aims to award oil, gas blocks by March

New Delhi: The government aims to award by March oil and gas exploration blocks offered in an auction earlier this year, a senior oil ministry official said on Monday, sorting out concerns including security at some of the blocks that forced a delay of nine months.

In March when the bids were received, then oil secretary S. Sundareshan had said the contracts were to be signed within three months.

“There were security issues with some blocks," Sudhir Bhargava, additional oil secretary told reporters, referring to the delay in award of the contracts. He did not say whether some or all 33 blocks would be allotted.

India wants to fully explore its sedimentary basins by 2015, from about 65% now as it seeks to cut dependence on imports, oil minister S. Jaipal Reddy said in a speech at World Petroleum Conference in Doha on Monday.

Reddy said about $16.5 billion had been invested to date in exploration and production activities in India.

India, the world’s fourth largest oil importer, ships in 80% of its oil needs to meet growing local fuel demand and feed its expanding refining capacity. It imports 25% of its gas needs.

Separately, junior oil minister R.P.N. Singh said in New Delhi India was seeking to increase oil imports from Africa and export more refined products to that continent.

It imported 706,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil, equivalent to 22% of its total imports, from Africa in the fiscal year ended March 2011.

By March 2017, the country’s oil refining capacity will rise by about 61% to 310.9 million tonnes a year or 6.22 million barrels per day (bpd).

India’s oil imports may rise as it prepares to add 800,000 bpd refining capacity by 2013, Singh said at a press briefing on the two-day India Africa Hydrocarbons Conference, which starts in New Delhi on 9 December.

The refining capacity addition would lift India’s annual fuel exports to 70 million tonnes by 2014 against 50 million tonnes now, he said.