The government plans to launch the 10th round of auctions of oil and gas exploration blocks under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) in the next 6-12 months, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters on Friday.
The minister’s statement comes at a time when the petroleum ministry is learnt to have prepared a Cabinet note, proposing a shift to the open acreage licensing policy (OALP), where the bidding and award of acreages will be a continuous, demand-based process.
Pradhan made the comments after visiting ONGC installations in the Mumbai High Western Offshore.
The NELP-X round is expected to be held with a revenue-sharing model, wherein a bidder will be asked to quote the amount of oil or gas output it is willing to offer to the government from the first day of production; whereas in the existing PSC, the contractors are allowed to recover the entire cost of exploration and production before sharing the profit with the government.
Pradhan said the government is incorporating lessons from the experiences of the previous rounds of NELP and holding inter-ministerial deliberations in working out the best licensing model for the auctions. Nelp-X is expected to have a uniform licensing regime, which means under a single contract, drilling of all forms of hydrocarbons, from oil and gas to shale could be done.
Pradhan added that the government has been working towards de-bottlenecking existing NELP projects that have been stalled. “In the last financial year, we undertook around 150 management committee meetings to get things moving,” the minister added.
He called for the re-assessment of at least 11 of India’s 26 sedimentary basins through 2D and 3D studies to understand its true potential. “Some of the data we have is outdated so we need to re-assess it through field level assessments,” he said.