Oil India Wins 12 Blocks In Oilfield Exploration Auction
An oil rig. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News)

Oil India Wins 12 Blocks In Oilfield Exploration Auction


State-owned Oil India Ltd. won 12 out of 32 oil and gas exploration blocks offered in latest auction while Vedanta Ltd. walked away with 10 and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. got eight blocks.

According to the list of winners of Open Acreage Licensing Policy Round II and III put out by the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, Reliance Industries Ltd. and its British partner BP Plc won a KG basin gas block. Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. also got one block.

Reliance-BP combine outbid ONGC in one Krishna Godavari basin block in the Bay of Bengal. This is an area that ONGC had previously relinquished and is said to hold natural gas prospects.

According to DGH, Oil India won six out of the 14 blocks on offer in OALP-II, while Vedanta walked away with five. ONGC, Reliance-BP and IOC won one block each.

In OALP-III, ONGC won seven blocks while Oil India got six and Vedanta the remaining five went to Vedanta.

Bidding for 14 blocks on offer in the Open Acreage Licensing Policy round-II and another 18 oil and gas blocks and 5 coal-bed methane blocks on offer in OALP-III closed on May 15.

No bid was received for any of the coal-bed methane blocks.

Reliance-BP had made their first bid in eight years when they sought an area that previously was held by ONGC, sources said.

When the government in July 2017 allowed companies to carve out blocks of their choice with a view to bring about 2.8 million square kilometers of unexplored area in the country under exploration, Reliance-BP sought the KG area containing the discoveries.

Under the new policy, areas sought by any company are put on auction with the initiator or the company that originally carved out the block, getting a five-point advantage.

Also read: Government To Auction 66 Oilfields Of ONGC And Oil India For Private Firms

Sources said Reliance-BP managed to get the coveted KG block in the latest auction by a small margin that possibly came from the originator marks and a commitment to do a shale core exploration.

Reliance-BP had last jointly bid for a KG deep water block in the eighth bid round under previous licensing policy in 2008. They, however, gave up the block after not finding any commercially exploitable oil and gas reserves.

In the following year, Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance on its own bid for six blocks in the ninth round of New Exploration Licensing Policy but did not win any block.

Sources said at the close of bidding for the current round on May 15, ONGC had put in bids for 20 out of the 32 blocks on offer, while OIL made bids for 16 blocks.

Vedanta, which had walked away with 41 out of the 55 blocks offered in OALP-I last year, bid for 30 areas.

Indian Oil, GAIL (India) and SunPetro bid for two blocks each, they said.

BP had more than a decade back entered the country buying 30 percent stake in Reliance's 21 oil and gas exploration blocks for $7.2 billion. All but a couple of blocks have since been relinquished.

NELP has since been replaced by Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy under which OALP bids round have been held.

Under the new policy, called open acreage licensing policy, companies are allowed to put in an expression of interest for prospecting of oil and gas in any area that is presently not under any production or exploration licence.

The EoIs can be put in at any time of the year but they are accumulated twice annually.

The blocks or areas that receive EoIs at the end of a cycle are put up for auction with the originator or the firm that originally selected the area getting a five-mark advantage.

The two windows of accumulating EoIs end on May 15 and Nov. 15 every year. EoIs accumulated till May 15 are supposed to be put on auction by June 30 and those in the second window by Dec. 31.

But a delay in offering of blocks meant that OALP-II and OALP-III ran concurrently.

While the OALP-I round saw an investment commitment of about Rs 60,000 crore, the government is expecting about 90,000 crore of investment in the latest round.

In OALP-1, Vedanta walked away with 41 out of 55 blocks bid out. Oil India won nine blocks while ONGC managed to win just two.

Blocks are awarded to the company which offers the highest share of oil and gas to the government as well as commits to do maximum exploration work by way of shooting 2D and 3D seismic survey and drilling exploration wells.

The new policy replaced the old system of government carving out areas and bidding them out. It guarantees marketing and pricing freedom and moves away from production sharing model of previous rounds to a revenue-sharing model, where companies offering the maximum share of oil and gas to the government are awarded the block.

Also read: OALP: India Launches Third Round Of Oilfield Auctions

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