Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan is right in describing the new policy cleared by the Cabinet as a paradigm shift. The current cost-recovery policy forced government agencies like DGH and CAG to examine costs of explorers \u2013 this led to disputes such as the one with Reliance Industries (RIL) on gold-plating and to a situation in which DGH clearances took a long time in coming. Moving to revenue sharing, which is what the Cabinet cleared, takes care of this. When is the last time the CAG questioned Bharti Airtel or Vodafone\u2019s costs \u2013 since they simply share revenues with government, their costs are irrelevant. Not allowing oilcos the freedom to price their gas \u2013 they are even told whom to sell it to \u2013 was a big deterrent when it came to gas exploration; this has now been freed up. Oilcos couldn\u2019t drill for coal bed methane or shale oil\/gas \u2013 now they can since the license issued will be a unified one. So why aren\u2019t oilcos cheering? Because the new policy applies to just 69 \u2018marginal\u2019 fields, so marginal that PSUs like ONGC didn\u2019t think it was worth their while to even work them. Pradhan is right in saying one of India\u2019s most prolific fields \u2013 Cairn India\u2019s Rajasthan one \u2013 was \u2018marginal\u2019 to begin with; and with more marketing freedom and less government interference, smaller explorers may well find them attractive and could make big finds. But you can\u2019t bank on a miracle each time, and with oil prices so low, exploration is not very attractive right now. The real revolution will come when Pradhan extends the new regime to all new fields, when gas pricing is freed for all producers, and when existing players can explore for shale oil\/gas within their current licenses \u2013 these firms are paying the government \u2018profit petroleum\u2019 anyway \u2013 and not allowing them this freedom means exploration in shale will have to wait for 15-20 years or more till their current licenses are over and can be rebid. That\u2019s a costly wait for an oil-starved nation \u2013 if revenue concerns are an issue, this can be discussed so that a solution is found. It is also unfortunate that, so many months later, the \u2018premium\u2019 for deepwater gas has not been resolved since fresh exploration depends upon this. And restricting this to only new discoveries is even worse since several discoveries made in the deep waters \u2013 including those by ONGC \u2013 will not be operationalised till they are viable. And until this is resolved, firms aren\u2019t going to risk exploring for gas in new fields either \u2013 in, say, the next exploration round \u2013 since they need to recover their existing investments before making new ones. The government is still not confident of taking big reform steps in the oil sector.