India today launched the third bidding round under its open acreage licensing policy (OALP), at the 13th edition of Petrotech 2019, a strategic hydrocarbon event held in New Delhi.

On offer are 23 blocks spread across 12 sedimentary basins. These blocks include 19 onland blocks including five coal bed methane blocks, three shallow water blocks and one deep water block. Total exploration acreage is expected to be more than triple to 300,000 square kilometres in two years ending 2019.

The latest edition of OALP is expected to generate around $600-700 million.

India which has set itself a target to cut its dependence on foreign oil to 67% from the current over 80% by 2022, has been keen on monetizing its hydrocarbon reserves and bring in foreign partners in the exploration and production segment.

Post the launch, bidders can study the data available in National Data Repository (NDR) and select blocks for the bidding. The bidders would be able to submit their bids through an online e-bidding portal starting 11th February 2019 and the bidding round would continue till 10th April 2019.

"With this successful roll out of the HELP/OALP regimes, together with the NDR, Government has achieved a massive addition to the exploration acreage of India," said the press statement from the ministry of petroleum and natural gas.

The acreage which stood at approximately 90,000 sq. km. in 2017 was enhanced to 150,000 sq. km. after OALP I and would touch 2,10,000 sq. km after OALP Round II and III bidding exercises by May 2019 and is expected to touch 300,000 sq. km. by the end of the year 2019.

The government is expecting about 40,000 crore of investment in the 14 blocks it put up on auction for prospecting of oil and gas in the second round of OALP. The 14 blocks being offered in OALP-II bid rounds cover an area of 29,333 square kilometers and bids close on March 12.

In the first round of OALP last year, around 60,000 crore was committed in the exploration of oil and gas in 55 blocks or areas.