India Offers 27 Blocks Under NELP III

India is offering 27 blocks in its third round of the New Exploration Licensing Policy (Nelp-III). Road shows are planned in Singapore, London, Houston and Calgary between May and June in hopes of attracting oil majors. Up for bid are nine deepwater blocks, seven shallow water blocks and seven onshore blocks.

Investors will benefit from a recent government decision to reduce the income tax rate for foreign companies from 48 percent to 40 percent and other changes in conditions from previous Nelp rounds. "Revised Model Production Sharing Contract for Nelp-III has been prepared after consultation with E&P companies and relevant organizations," stated Petroleum Minister Ram Naik.

The government will accept bids until August 28th, giving companies five months to evaluate information about the blocks which will be available at data centers in New Delhi, London and Houston.

Five of the blocks have never before been offered. Sixteen of them are being offered with fresh data and for six blocks the area being offered has been modified.

The onshore blocks are in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, the northeastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura, the eastern states of Bihar and West Bengal, the mountainous Himachal Pradesh state in the north and Gujarat in the west.

India has signed 47 contracts under the previous two rounds of the exploration licensing policy. In the earlier rounds, India failed to attract oil majors because of a low success rate of oil strikes and better opportunities elsewhere. Government officials said 10 commercial discoveries had been made in the last two years including those reported by Cairn Energy.