NELP V Round Attracts 32 Companies

The promotional exercise for increasing exploration efforts by the Government seems to have attracted players such as Total (France), Petronas (Malaysia), Statoil (Norway), ENI (Italy), Talisman (Canada), Petrobras (Brazil) and British Petroleum. This is even as conventional buyers such as ONGC are yet to buy the data being offered, sources said.

Data worth Rs 20 crore have already been sold under the fifth round of the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) announced on January 4, 2005. The bids are to close on May 31. Data purchase is a prelude to the response to final bidding, and so far, 32 companies have bought data. The response has surpassed the previous rounds of NELP. Earlier, data worth Rs 13-14 crore had been sold, that too on the last days of the bid, with only 10-odd companies buying it, sources said.

Under the previous four rounds of NELP, production sharing contracts (PSCs) have been signed for 90 blocks. The fifth round, which is underway, has been opened for inviting bids for 20 exploration blocks. Out of these 20 blocks, six are in offshore areas along the eastern and western coast of the country and 12 are onshore.

While the overall fiscal and contractual terms under NELP have remained more or less the same, consultations are held with all stakeholders at the end of each round to suggest and incorporate improvements for succeeding rounds.

The fifth round incorporate some new features such as an establishment of a single-window facility in the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to facilitate investor interaction with other authorities concerned after the PSC is signed.

The NELP became effective in 1999 from when licenses for exploration are being awarded through an international competitive bidding system. National oil companies are required to compete with Indian and foreign companies to secure petroleum exploration licenses.

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