If all goes as planned, the government may start the auction process for fresh hydrocarbon fields by the first quarter of the next financial year, boosting the country’s oil and gas production capacity, according to senior officials. The fields will be offered under the Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP) and will be accompanied by the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) and the launch of the National Data Repository (NDR).
“We are trying to bring OALP as quickly as possible. The papers have been finalised. OALP and NDR will be launched together,” said one of the officials requesting anonymity.
The Cabinet had in March 2016 approved HELP, under which uniform licences for exploration and production of all forms of hydrocarbons would be provided enabling contractors to explore conventional as well as unconventional oil and gas resources. The fields will be offered under the revenue-sharing model and offer marketing and pricing freedom for the crude oil and natural gas produced.
NDR will provide explorers data on the country’s repositories, allowing them to choose fields according to their capabilities. “Though we are ready with NDR, it is a continuous process but at some time we will have to throw it to the people. That is the first time people will have access to the full basinal data of India,” said the official quoted above.
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Under the previous New Exploration Licensing Policy, the government used to identify and assess the blocks. Under the open acreage system, explorers will identify fields and the government will allot them.
According to another government official, who also did not want to be named, one can start using the NDR data but that will need a policy. “We have held consultations with various stakeholders and we have finalised
a draft policy. The Directorate General
of Hydrocarbons has given a final policy
to the ministry and we will, after internal
discussion, shortly launch it,” added the
The ministry of petroleum and natural gas has engaged PwC. The consultancy will assist in formulating the auction process and designing the bid and contract documents.
A third government official, who too requested not to be named, however, said, “We are trying to bring it as soon as possible, though it depends on the investment environment and other things such as readiness.”
The government aims to reduce its import dependency for oil and gas, which is at present 80% of the total requirement. By 2030, the Narendra Modi-led government plans to halve the import.