Pradhan assures transparent regulatory regime in hydrocarbons

Houston, July 15 (IANS) Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, at a roadshow here to promote the auction of 67 discovered small hydrocarbon fields in the country, has assured a transparent regulatory regime and greater ease in doing business with India.

“We recognise that the need of the hour is to increase the domestic energy production by unlocking India’s hydrocarbon potential,” Pradhan said in his address at the event on Thursday, promising a “transparent regulatory regime” and greater ease of doing business.

As many as 50 international companies in the sector, including Magna Energy, BP, IHS Energy, Texas Oil & Gas Technology, Nabors, McDermott, Reliance Exploration and Production DMCC, KPMG, Halliburton, Joshi Technologies International, Vega Energy and Schlumberger, attended the road show here.

Assuring all possible support from the Indian government, Pradhan pointed to the steps already taken such as easier regulatory administration and pricing freedom for crude oil and natural gas produced from the new fields.

The Houston roadshow consisted of detailed presentations and one-on-one meetings with the companies.

“The bid timelines are stringent and my team is geared to ensure a smooth process. I look forward to an encouraging participation in the bidding from you all. We have also set up a facilitation cell for assisting you throughout the bid process,” the minister said.

The 67 Discovered Small Fields (DSF) being offered for international bidding are those of the Oil and Natural Gas Corp and Oil India that could not be monetised during the previous years.

Bidding will open between July 15 and October 31.

The previous exploration licensing round ended in March 2012.

The auction will be under the new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) approved in March, based on a revenue-sharing model as opposed to cost-and-output-based norms earlier.

The new model will replace the controversial production sharing contracts — by which oil and gas blocks are awarded to firms which show they will do maximum work on a block — that has governed the bidding under the earlier nine NELP rounds.

The government is offering bids for the 67 discovered small fields in 46 contract areas spread over nine sedimentary basins on land and in shallow and deep water areas. The offered fields hold 625 million barrels of oil and gas reserves.

Of the 46 small fields, 26 are on land, 18 offshore in shallow water and two in deep water.

While 28 discoveries are in the Mumbai offshore, 14 others are in the east coast’s Krishna-Godavari basin.

Eventual operators will be issued a single licence for exploration of conventional and non-conventional hydrocarbons and will have the freedom to sell oil and gas at “arms length” market prices. There would be no cess on crude oil.

The production sharing contracts regime, which allows operators to recover all investments made from sale of oil and gas before profits are shared with the government, was criticised by India’s official auditor, who said it encouraged companies to keep inflating costs — “gold plating” — so as to postpone giving higher share of profits.

The change in model is designed to help keep the government share in cases of windfall from both steep rise in prices as well as quantum jump in production.

The ministry’s next North American roadshow will be held in Calgary, Canada on July 18-19.

Pradhan is on an official visit to Houston and Washington D.C. In Washington, he will meet US Secretary of Energy Ernest Jeffrey Moniz on July 18.



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