55 OALP-1 winners awarded contracts for oil, gas exploration

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New Delhi, Oct 1 (IANS) An impressive Rs 5,900 crore of investment has been committed for the exploration of 55 oil and gas blocks awarded through the first round of auctions under the country’s new Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday.

The Minister was speaking at the contracts award ceremony where natural resources major Vedanta Ltd was awarded 41 of the 55 blocks offered through the OALP first-round auctions.

The OALP, under the new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP), allows the investor to carve out blocks of their choice and submit an Expression of Interest (Eol) throughout the year.

“We have received firm investment commitment of over Rs 5,900 crore in the 55 OALP-I blocks,” Pradhan said.

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“We got an investment commitment of Rs 700-800 crore in the Discovered Small Field (DSF)-I round,” he said.

State-run Oil India (OIL) won nine blocks and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) bagged two blocks.

Two other state-run gas utility GAIL and Bharat Petroleum Corporation won one block each, while the private sector Hindustan Oil Exploration Company bagged one block.

Under HELP, the competitive bidding will be continuous and blocks awarded twice a year.

HELP replaced nine earlier rounds held under the New Exploration Licensing Policy wherein the government carved out areas for bidding.

The main features of HELP are revenue-sharing contracts, as opposed to previous profit-sharing model, single licence for both conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources exploration and marketing and pricing freedom.

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Responding to queries later regarding land acquisition issues being faced in connection with some onshore exploration locations in Tamil Nadu, Pradhan clarifed that the contract block in Tamil Nadu awarded to ONGC on Monday is an offshore one without any such issues involved.

–IANS

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