India to Launch NELP-V Shortly

India will launch the fifth round of its New Exploration Licensing Policy (Nelp-V) in two months, government officials said.

India is seeking investments in the exploration sector from local and foreign firms by offering exploration blocks under the Nelp rounds.

India's new oil minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, discussed the Nelp licensing rounds with top officials at a recent meeting and decided to continue the policy of offering exploration blocks to companies, officials said.

Global oil majors have not bid for Indian exploration blocks offered under the Nelp but other companies have struck oil and gas in recent years.

Reliance Industries discovered an estimated 14.5 trillion cubic feet of gas in a deep-sea block in Andhra coast in 2002.

British oil and gas firm Cairn Energy has announced oil discoveries in the desert state of Rajasthan, including its Mangala field with an estimated 650-1,100 million barrels of oil in place.

Several smaller discoveries have also been reported in the country which imports 70 percent of its crude oil needs.

So far, the government has signed 90 contracts involving an investment commitment of $4.4 billion.