After the idea to set up a national data repository (NDR) was conceived 17 years ago, the trial run for the IT-enabled database of oil and gas blocks in the country would start this month. However, the NDR, being set up by upstream regulator Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), would be fully functional only by March 2016. “The trial run for NDR would start this month. Several software-based platforms have been developed. Selected data would be fed into them and we would test the system. NDR would not be open to bidders right way,” said a government official in the know.
The idea to set up the NDR was mooted to bring in practice the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) and do away with the current auctioning methodology for oil and gas blocks, the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).
The NDR would validate, store, maintain and reproduce high quality reliable geo-scientific data of Indian sedimentary basins. The contract to set up the NDR has been bagged by HLS Asia (HLSA), which has foreign collaboration with US-based Halliburton Energy Services. The company was awarded the contract in March last year.
To make India a favourable destination globally for exploration and natural gas, the government plans to move to the OALP regime soon. This will enable upstream companies to bid for any oil and gas block without waiting for the announcement of bidding under the NELP regime. The idea was floated many years ago when Murli Deora was petroleum minister.
NDR would be hosted at the DGH office in Noida. The government had amended Rule 19 of the petroleum and natural gas rules to enable DGH to obtain all data from operators or licensees, which could be disclosed to prospective bidders as and when required under the open acreage system.
Open acreage will enable bidders to bid for blocks on offer at any time of the year. Data for the blocks will be made available to bidders through NDR. Pakistan also has such a system in place. The NDR is expected to play a much larger and significant role in the exploration and production scenario in the years to come. It will also facilitate gathering of all geo-scientific data available in India under one roof so that it is easily available to the agencies that require it.