India Receives Bids on 22 out of 24 Blocks in NELP IV

BG Group, Cairn Energy and Reliance Industries Ltd have bid for oil and gas exploration blocks offered under the fourth round of India's New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP-IV).

"We have got bids for 22 out of the 24 blocks. The response is much better than in the previous rounds," Indian Oil Minister Ram Naik told reporters on Tuesday. Naik said he was satisfied with the response although the top oil companies of the world did not submit a bid. "It is their commercial decision." Global oil majors have stayed away in the previous three rounds of the exploration licensing policy.

ONGC, Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum and Gujarat State Petroleum were among domestic companies submitting bids. ONGC bid for 18 blocks independently and put in bids for two other blocks as a partner in a consortium

A subsidiary of Russia's Gazprom was also among seven foreign companies and 19 Indian companies that bid for the blocks. Other companies include Canoro Resources of Canada and Hardy Exploration and Production India, which has bid jointly with Reliance Industries.

Awards are expected to be made by the end of January Naik said the next two months will be used to evaluate the bids and by December the selected bids will go through the cabinet approval process. Eleven onshore blocks, twelve deepwater block and one shallow water block were being offered.