Centre approved awarding rights for 31 small discovered oil and gas fields in its first auction in six years, entrusting most of these to new entrants as it seeks to boost local production. Sun Petrochemicals Pvt., a privately owned company formed by the directors of drugmaker Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd., and engineering company Megha Engineering & Infrastructure Ltd. were among 15 new entrants out of 22 companies that have received rights to develop the fields, according to a government statement. Established players, including Hindustan Exploration Co. and state-run Oil India Ltd., also won some fields.
Development of these small oil and gas fields is crucial for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to reduce oil imports by as much as 10 percent by 2022. The awarded blocks will boost India’s oil output by as much as 15,000 barrels of oil per day and gas production by 2 million standard cubic meters a day, according to the oil regulator Directorate General of Hydrocarbons. “These fields hold potential for lot of investments in India over the next decade,” Atanu Chakraborty, the head of DGH, said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “It will open new avenues for jobs and create entrepreneurs.”
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The 46 areas that went under the hammer were discovered by Oil and Natural Gas Corp. and state-run Oil India Ltd. with estimated in-place oil and gas reserves of about 625 million barrels. They weren’t developed as the explorers focused on bigger fields. Larger established companies like Reliance Industries Ltd. and ONGC stayed away from the auctions.
The government had received 134 bids from as many as 42 companies in the auction round that closed Nov. 21, after rules were relaxed allowing pricing freedom for oil and gas and uniform policy for all kinds of hydrocarbons.
Since the fields are small and presence of oil or gas is already established, production can be started quicker than other larger fields the country plans to auction later this year. The estimated revenue from these blocks is seen as much as 464 billion rupees ($7 billion), according to the DGH.
India’s $2-trillion economy imports more than 80 percent of its crude requirement and a heavy reliance on imports risks its status as the fastest-expanding major economy in the world. The International Energy Agency expects the country to be the fastest-growing crude consumer in the world through 2040.