With the overhaul of the policy framework, the NDA government is preparing grounds to auction nearly 46 oil and gas blocks. The petroleum ministry has already mooted a major reform in contracts from cost recovery model to revenue sharing model while bidding out these acreages. The new policy model, currently under discussions, is expected to be okayed by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) shortly.
These auctions could see the unveiling of the opean acreage licensing policy, that would replace the NELP rounds. The auction of oil and gas blocks is crucial to see if foreign investors bet their funds and shows confidence in the Modi government. This comes at a time when crude oil prices have touched six-year low and explorers including Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Chevron have reportedly cut down their capital expenditure programmes. Moreover, ENI, BHP Billiton, Santos and BP have already surrendered nearly 57,000 sq km of oil and gas blocks in India in the recent years.
The 46 blocks being shortlisted for the next round of auction include 17 onland, 15 shallow water and 14 deep water, according to data from the Directorarte General of Hydrocarbons (DGH). These areas are situated in 13 prospective sedimentary basins of India – Gujarat-Kutch, Gujarat-Saurashtra, Mumbai, Kerala-Konkan, Cauvery, Krishna Godavari, Mahanadi-NEC, Andaman, Bengal, Punjab plain, Rajasthan, Cambay and Deccan Syneclise.
In a bid to put in place a minimum government and maximum governance initiative, the Modi-led government has proposed to sugar coat future award of hydrocarbon blocks in the country. This is done at a time when India seeks investments in the domestic exploration and production (E&P) front to curb ballooning crude oil imports, which rose to 189.43 million tonnes in FY15 against 171.73 million tonnes in FY12.