State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Thursday signed a contract for the prolific Chinnewala Tibba gas field in Rajasthan, which it had discovered around 15 years ago but was taken away and auctioned by the government.
ONGC won back five out of the 23 discovered oil and gas fields that the government took away from the state-owned firm and Oil India Ltd (OIL) for auctioning in the second round of discovered small field (DSF).
The 72-square kilometer field near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan has 1,900 million standard cubic metres of reserves, an official of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons said at the contract-signing ceremony with the winners of the 23 fields auctioned in DSF-II.
The 23 fields, made up of some 57 discoveries by ONGC and OIL, hold 190 million tonnes of oil and oil-equivalent gas resources, the official said.
Speaking on the occasion, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said DSF bid rounds are aimed at raising domestic production to cut dependence on imported oil.
India is 83 per cent dependent on imports to meet its oil needs.
"Maximising production is the most important priority now," he said.
While ONGC and OIL could not monetise the discoveries auctioned in the DSF round mainly due to they being financially unviable on prevalent fiscal terms, DSF round winners will get complete pricing and marketing freedom that will make the finds economically viable.
Pradhan said ONGC was asked to largely stay away from DSF-I round last year but was given freedom to bid in DSF-II and he was happy that the company walked away with the most number of fields.
Chinnewala Tibba was the most-contested field in DSF-II with as many as 17 bids being put in. ONGC won the field as also four others after bid evaluation and award was completed last week.
Contracts for the same were signed Thursday. OIL and Vedanta Ltd signed contracts for two fields each they had won while lesser known Ganges Geo-Resources Pvt Ltd signed for five fields.
State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and its partner Hindustan Oil Exploration Company Ltd (HOEC) signed for one field they won in the auction.
Arch Softwares Pvt Ltd, a firm backed by former Cairn India executive Suniti Bhat, won two offshore fields.
The remaining fields went to little-known firms such as Shanti GD Ispat Power, Arsh Corporate Services, Invenire Energy, Keerthi Industries, and Gem Petro E&P.
On the contract signing, Vedanta Resources Ltd Executive Chairman Anil Agarwal said: "The Government of India has taken concrete steps to encourage and thus enhance domestic crude oil production, in line with Minister Pradhan's vision of energy self-sufficiency. The discovered small fields Round-II auction is another significant step in this direction. We remain committed to optimising exploration and production from the fields awarded to us. These reformative steps and our demonstrated success will pave the way for attracting future foreign investments as well."
Sudhir Mathur, chief executive officer of oil and gas business of Vedanta Ltd, said the company is known for its engineering strength and innovation, especially in the tight oil and tight gas domain. "We are excited to bring these strengths to bear in the two new DSF fields awarded to us. We congratulate the government on all of these progressive initiatives that will lead to growth in the sector, job creation, and prosperity for our country."
As many as 39 firms, including six foreign players, had put in 145 bids for 24 out of the 25 oil and gas fields on offer in DSF-II at the close of bidding on January 30. Mining giant Vedanta put in the highest number of bids for 21 fields.
A DGH statement said one bid for a field has been kept in abeyance as the matter is sub-judice.
ONGC and OIL had put in bids for 10 fields each while Indian Oil Corp (IOC) bid for 3.
British company Soco International made its foray into India, bidding for one field but it failed to make a dent. Arch Softwares had put in bids for 15 fields.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)