The Centre plans to launch the 10th edition of oil & gas block auction after revamp of existing exploration policy to make it more investor friendly, Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy said at the Petrotech 2012 Conference here on Sunday.
The country’s previous nine bid rounds under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) have been lacklustre with top global players staying away due to tight pricing norms and delays in getting approvals.
A panel headed by Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council Chairman C Rangarajan is expected to submit proposals on revamp of the exploration policy and the terms of contracts signed by companies to explore and produce oil and gas, he said.
Exploration firms have raised concerns about lack of pricing and marketing freedom as well as fiscal stability. The government not just controls fixation of natural gas price but also nominates buyers and quantities to be sold to them.
The Rangarajan panel has also been asked to suggest “structure and elements of the guidelines for determining the basis or formula for the price of domestically produced gas, and for monitoring actual price fixation”.
Meanwhile, the Oil Secretary G C Chaturvedi said that the government has cleared a bulk of the 52 oil and gas blocks that were stuck for want of defence and environmental clearances. He informed this at the Petrotech conference here.
“A high-level panel headed by the Cabinet Secretary and comprising officials of ministries such as defence and environment, has been set up to give clearance for exploration blocks,” he said.
The panel takes up clearances of blocks that have been pending for a long time. “We have been clearing blocks and I believe only 11-12 blocks are pending for clearances now,” he added.
So far, 113 oil and gas discoveries under NELP have been made in 38 blocks. Under NELP, about 737 million tonne of oil equivalent hydrocarbons reserves have been added.
Till August, 52 blocks awarded under various rounds of NELP bidding were pending for clearance by different organisations such as Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Environment and Forest, international boundary disputes and state governments.
Of the blocks awaiting clearances, 22 were of ONGC and 15 belong to Reliance Industries. Australian BHP Billiton’s five blocks, three of Cairn India, two of Santos International and one each of British Gas, BP, Focus Energy, ENI of Italy and Jubilant Oil and Gas were stuck.
Explorers led by Relaiance Industries Ltd have so far invested about $20.19 billion in oil and gas hunt in blocks awarded under NELP.