Nearly 55 blocks have received clearances

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has decided to put 86 hydrocarbon blocks for bidding in the round X of New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) by January 15, 2014, to attract more investment into the exploration and production (E&L) sector, petroleum minister Veerappa Moily said here.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, the minister said that out of these identified blocks, 53 to 55 blocks had received all clearances from different agencies while clearances for the rest would be received by the time of bidding.

“The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) regime continues in NELP X, and, in the process, we may make some modifications,” the minister said.Mr. Moily, on Monday evening, met investors and fund managers in Mumbai to seek their views as to how to improve the investment climate in the E&P sector. At this meeting, investors pointed out certain short- and long-term measures that would help in the revival of their confidence. Mr. Moily assured them that all sort-term concerns would be addressed in two months.

Elaborating on the short-term concerns of investors, Joint Secretary Exploration A. Giridhar said “Investors wanted clarity in production sharing administration. There were concerns on delay in grant of clearances,and they wanted to know government’s policy on integrated discoveries.”

Investors also wanted to know government’s shale gas policy. There were concerns on taxation issues as well. “Basically, policy and fiscal issues are bothering them. They want to concentrate on exploration, and do not want to go around seeking clearances,” Mr.Giridhar added.

Hydrocarbon potential

Mr.Moily, in his address, said that India must harness the potential of its hydrocarbon resources and be energy-independent by 2030. “There is excellent prospect of oil and gas sector in this country, and we need more investment. We have taken several administrative decisions, and the real development has taken off in the past 30 months (under me).”

The minister said that the recent gas discovery at KG-D6 basin by Reliance Industries could be the biggest ever in the country.

The discovery, named 'D-55', has been notified to the government of India.

He said that the dispute with Reliance would be resolved soon. “There is dispute with regard to only two discoveries. They (RIL) have offered bank guarantee. I am confident that the matter will be cleared in 10 to 15 days,” Mr.Moily said.

He expected the Supreme Court to appoint a third arbitrator at the earliest so that the issues between RIL and the Government could be resolved at the earliest. The minister said despite negative headlines appearing in the media several positive developments had taken place in the sector. “We have, over the past few months, cleared as many as $7 billion worth investment proposals submitted by RIL,” the minister said.

Mr.Moily also announced the exploration of first shale gas by ONGC off the coast of Gujarat.

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