Indian Government Signs 20 Contracts Under NELP-IV

The Indian Government signed 20 contracts for exploration of oil and gas under the fourth round of NELP and eight contracts for exploration and production of coal bed methane (CBM) under the second round of CBM policy (CBM II) last Friday.

The 20 exploration blocks under NELP IV include 10 onshore blocks and 10 deepwater blocks. The companies which signed the contracts are Cairn Energy, Hardy Exploration and Production, GeoGlobal Resources, public sector companies ONGC, OIL, HPCL, BPCL and GAIL and private sector companies Reliance Industries (RIL), Jubilant Enpro, Enpro Finance, Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation and joint sector company Prize Petroleum.

ONGC, along with partners, signed exploration licenses for 14 blocks while Reliance received one. A minimum investment of Rs 2,010 crore has been committed in the first exploratory phase in the 20 blocks whose Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) were signed on Friday. The total investment in three phases of exploration, development and production in these blocks comes to Rs 5500 crore, petroleum minister Ram Naik said on Friday.

Cairn Energy of UK won a Ganga Valley onshore block on its own and an onshore block in Cambay basin in Gujarat in partnership with ONGC. The other big names in the fray — BG Group, Niko Resources and Russia's Zarubezneftgaz — drew a blank. RIL, which teamed up with Hardy Oil of UK to bid for eight of the 12 deepwater blocks on offer, could manage only one, the NEC-DWN-2002/1 deepwater block, Mr. Naik added.

With the signing of these 20 contracts, the government has signed a total of 90 contracts under the first four rounds of NELP. The total investment commitment in NELP blocks is about Rs. 20,000 crores.

The eight CBM blocks for which contracts were signed are located in Chattisgarh (1 block, partially falling in Madhya Pradesh), Gujarat (1 block), Jharkhand (2 blocks), Madhya Pradesh (1 block), Maharashtra (1 block) and Rajasthan (2 blocks). The companies which signed the contracts were ONGC, GSPC and RIL. While ONGC signed 4 contracts on its own and one contract with GSPC, RIL signed 3 contracts. The committed investment for exploration is about Rs. 300 crores and as there is a big potential in these blocks, investment levels will be significantly higher after establishing commerciality of CBM gas.

With the signing of these eight contracts, the government has signed a total of 16 contracts for exploration and production of CBM in the country. The estimated CBM resources in these 16 blocks are over 800bn cubic meters and the estimated potential for daily production could be over 20m standard cubic meters per day.