NELP-X expected to see leasing out of 56 oil, gas blocks

The government plans to offer around 56 oil and gas blocks on revenue-sharing contracts with explorers against the current profit-sharing mechanism, in the 10th round of bidding under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).

NELP-X, the largest offering of blocks since the start of NELP in 1999, is expected to be launched on 15 January. The government is looking to attract the maximum investment in the oil and gas exploration sector in an effort to maximise oil and gas output.

NELP-IX offered a total of 34 blocks covering an area of about 88,807 square km and comprising eight deepwater blocks, seven shallow water blocks and 19 onland blocks.

Major Indian and international hydrocarbon players like BHP, ONGC, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petro Resources had participated in the ninth round, but many have since withdrawn as the contract seemed less attractive to them.

The ministry of petroleum has sent a note to the cabinet recommending revenue-sharing contracts with explorers in place of the current profit-sharing mechanism, petroleum secretary Vivek Rae said.

Petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily had earlier said that after nine rounds of activity under NELP, about 80 per cent area is yet to be explored extensively.

Meanwhile, state-run oil and gas explorer ONGC and private sector Reliance Industries Ltd are probing possible overlaps in lease area reserves on thee Krishna Godaveri blocks operated by the two explorers, begin scrutiny of data.

Reports say Reliance Industries may end up sharing benefits from its East Coast gas-producing block with ONGC if the technical teams of the two exploration majors find 'connectivity' in the reservoir.

The issue of sharing of volumes will arise only when connectivity is proved, an RIL executive said, adding, ''There also has to be consensus between the two parties concerned on the issue. If there is no consensus, then an independent expert will be appointed to examine the data.''

Allocation of reserves will be made on a pro-rata basis of volumes once the continuity of reservoirs is established, RIL sources said.