The government on Thursday awarded Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) all seven oil and gas blocks that were on offer in the fourth round of Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), said Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
The current round added 18,510 square kilometre (sq km) to India’s total exploration area. Pradhan said bids for another 20,000 sq km area will be finalised soon as part of the fifth round.
Of the seven blocks, five are located in Madhya Pradesh and one block each in Rajasthan and West Bengal. The blocks are spread over three sedimentary basins with resource potential of around 33 billion barrels of oil and oil equivalent gas. The first four rounds are expected to generate an investment of around $2.35 billion over the next three to four years in exploratory work alone.
“During the last two fiscal years, the government has successfully bid out 140,000 sq km for exploration and production. In addition, over these years, we have improved our policies multiple times," Pradhan said. Only 90,000 sq km was under exploration till 2018.
As many as 55 blocks were awarded in the first round of OALP, followed by 32 blocks in the second and third rounds, which were awarded together.
Pradhan added that the major change in government policy was from revenue maximisation to production maximisation. The current rounds provide more sops to investors, including reduced royalty rates and uniform licensing, following a revenue sharing model.
Speaking about technology infusion, Pradhan said, “Technology, science has seen tremendous progress in recent times. Our oil and gas companies are adopting digitisation, new technologies for leapfrogging growth.”
The cumulative exploratory work commitment after the four rounds of OALP comprise 29,270 line kilometres of 2D seismic survey, 43,272 sq km of 3D seismic survey, 369 exploratory wells and 290 core analyses to establish Shale resources.
A total of 94 blocks have been awarded in the four OALP rounds conducted so far, covering an area of 136,790 sq km to leading exploration and production companies. The operators of these blocks have since either initiated exploration or are in the final stages of obtaining Petroleum Exploration Licences.
The fifth cycle of submitting Expressions of Interest (EoIs) closed on November 30, 2019, while the sixth cycle of EoI is open till March 31.