Govt to transit to open acreage policy in oil exploration

New Delhi: Instead of being offered blocks for exploration, oil exploration companies may soon be able to choose the blocks they want to take up to search for hydrocarbon resources. This will result from a transition to an open acreage policy, petroleum minister Murli Deora has said.

''The Government's intention is to move to the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) regime as soon as possible,'' petroleum minister, Murli Deora, said.

Speaking at the production-sharing contract (PSC) signing ceremony for the blocks awarded in the eighth round of oil and gas blocks auction (NELP-VIII), he said, ''Under this policy (OALP), companies can suggest any block on offer at any time, without waiting for the regular bid rounds under NELP. The blocks will be awarded to the party giving the best bid.''

Under NELP-VIII, of the 70 blocks offered, only 36 attracted bids of which two were rejected. Out of these 34 blocks, PSCs for 31 were signed on Wednesday. ONGC and its consortium won 17 blocks.

PSCs were signed with 20 companies for eight deepwater blocks, 11 shallow water offshore, and 12 onland blocks.

For the OALP to become operational establishment of the National Data Repository (NDR) is a pre-requisite. The Directorate-General for Hydrocarbons (DGH) is in the process of setting up the NDR, which will archive all exploration and production data under one roof.