India is offering 26 blocks or areas for finding and producing oil and gas in a mega offshore bid round, upstream regulator Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) said on Tuesday.
Simultaneously, 16 areas for prospecting for coal-bed methane (CBM) are also being offered in a separate round.
The “government announces the offer of 26 blocks covering an area of approximately 2.23 lakh square kilometers for exploration and development through international competitive bidding,” the DGH said without giving timelines for bidding.
Out of the 26 blocks, 15 areas are in ultra-deepwater, eight in shallow sea, and three blocks are on land.
The bid rounds are being held under the 2016 policy, called the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP), which was promulgated on March 30, 2016.
Since then, seven bid rounds of the Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) have been concluded and 134 exploration and production blocks awarded. These blocks cover 2,07,691 square km of area across 19 sedimentary basins.
An eighth round was launched in July, offering 10 areas. The winners of that round are yet to be announced.
Successful award of Round-VIII blocks would add a further 36,316 sq km of exploration acreage and cumulative exploration acreage under the OALP regime will be increased to 2,44,007 sq km.
DGH is calling the latest round ‘Offshore Bid Round (OALP Bid Round-IX) under HELP. The area being offered for exploration in OALP-IX is almost the size of the area bid out in the previous eight rounds put together.
DGH said the 16 CBM blocks being offered in the special bid round are spread over Madhya Pradesh (4), Chhattisgarh, Telangana (3 each), Maharashtra, Odisha (2 each), Jharkhand and West Bengal (1 each).
Just like OALP, the CBM blocks are being offered on a revenue share basis – companies offering the highest share of revenue to the government would win the block.
The exception to this rule are blocks that lie in low prospective basins where the work programme such as shooting of seismic or drilling of wells, will be the deciding factor.
Besides revenue sharing contract model, HELP provides attractive and liberal terms like reduced royalty rates, no oil cess, no revenue share bidding for blocks in less prospective basins, marketing and pricing freedom, round-the-year bidding, freedom to investors for carving out blocks of their interest, a single licence to cover both conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources, among others.