India offers 21 oil and gas blocks in OALP-6 auctions; expects $300-400 million investment

India launched the sixth round of hydrocarbon blocks auction under the Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP), offering 21 blocks spread across approximately 35,346 square kilometres. Investments of around $300-400 million are expected from the round in these oil/gas blocks.

India is 85 per cent dependent on imports to meet its oil needs and finding newer reserves through exploration rounds like OALP-VI will help reduce that reliance. “It is expected that this bid Round-VI would generate immediate exploration work commitment of around USD 300-400 million,” an official statement said.

The government has so far conducted five bid rounds since the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) was launched in March 2016. The last bid round, where 7 blocks were offered, was launched in August 2019 and closed in January 2017.

In the previous five bid rounds, 105 blocks for exploration of oil and gas were bid round. Of these, Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Ltd walked away with 51, the bulk of it in the very first round. State-owned Oil India Ltd (OIL) won 25 and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation another 24. The joint venture of Reliance Industries and BP got one block. Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), GAIL, BRPL and HOEC too got one block each.

The 105 blocks spanning to an area of around 156,580 sq km in over 17 Sedimentary Basins of India attracted total committed investment of around USD 2.378 billion,” the statement said.

This will be the third round of OALP auctions after the Cabinet, in February 2019, amended the revenue-sharing model for hydrocarbon exploration and capped the government’s revenue share at 50%. The deadline for bid submission is October 6. In the fifth round of OALP auctions where 11 oilfields were offered, only one private firm and two state-owned companies had participated. State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) was the only bidder for eight blocks while Oil India was the sole bidder for two blocks. No private player had participated in the fourth OALP round where all the seven blocks offered were awarded to ONGC.

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