BHP Billiton surrenders 10 offshore blocks in India for clearance delays

BHP Billiton, the world's biggest mining company, has surrendered 10 offshore blocks in India it had won under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP VII) due to delays in getting clearances from the defence ministry.

The Anglo-Australian miner did not give reasons for surrendering the blocks, but said that the decision to relinquish these blocks was made based on a review of its exploration portfolio and its inability to carry out exploration in these blocks.

BHP Billiton held a 26-per cent stake in seven deep-sea blocks with GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd and a 100-per cent interest in a three additional blocks, which have all been surrendered.

GVK had earlier said that it has suspended further investment in these blocks since the defence ministry has not cleared exploration at the blocks, which are located in deep waters of the Bay of Bengal.

BHP Billiton has however retained the MB-DWN-2010/1 deepwater field in the Mumbai basin, where it holds an equal stake with UK's BG Group.

The London-based company has over 20 producing assets in the oil and gas sector, with a mix of crude oil, natural gas and shale gas.

It has recently made some big-ticket acquisitions in the Fayetteville, Haynesville / Bossier, Eagle Ford and the Permian Basin shale gas acreages in the US. It is also the operator in two blocks in the Gulf of Mexico.

BHP Billiton also has other development projects in the Philippines, India, Trinidad and Tobago, Algeria, Pakistan, and Malaysia.