Another auction for hydrocarbon assets next quarter: Deora

December 22nd, 2008 - 2:28 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 22 (IANS) India will hold the next set of auctions to award exploration and production contracts for hydrocarbon assets in the country during the first quarter of 2009, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said here Monday.”It would be our endeavour to launch NELP-VIII and CBM-IV rounds in the first quarter of 2009,” Deora told reporters, referring to the eighth round of auctions under the New Exploration Licensing Policy and the third tranche under the Coal Bed Methane programme.

“I invite all exploration and production companies to offer their valuable suggestions for further simplifying the entire process for award of blocks,” Deora said on the margins of a function to sign pacts with companies who won contracts under the previous round of auction.

He said the government has started to interact with all stake-holders for the evaluation criteria and for production-sharing contracts for the forthcoming round of auctions for both oil and gas fields and coal bed methane assets.

“The next round will be much bigger, indicating that there could be higher number of blocks on offer,” said V.K. Sibal, director general of hydrocarbons, the regulator for the sector.

The seventh round of auction that started in December last year attracted $1.5 billion in investment from oil companies. It offered 57 exploration blocks covering sedimentary basins in an area spread over 171,000 sq KM.

Deora said one of the achievements of the latest round of auction was that small sized blocks got high response and that for the first time similar interest was also evinced for deep water blocks under the new criteria for consortia-based biding.

“Operators enabled India to have one of the most extensive deep water exploration programmes.”

Small sized blocks - covering an area of less than 200 sq KM - were introduced in the bidding process for the first time in the seventh round.

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