India to auction 55 oil and gas blocks

By agencies   |   Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 08:00 Hrs
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LONDON: Launching a major global initiative for attracting foreign investment in the hydrocarbon sector, India held a roadshow in London for auctioning 55 oil and gas exploration blocks.

Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Murli Deora, offered for sale the onshore and offshore blocks to potential investors, including Brazil's Petrobras, BP (British Petroleum) and Malaysia's Petronas.

Of the 55 blocks opened for bidding in the New Exploration Licensing Policy - the Sixth Round (NELP VI), and the Coal Bed Methane - Third round (CBM III) of bidding in India, 24 are in deepwater, six in shallow water and 25 onshore. Ten onshore blocks are available under the CBM III Round of Bidding, he said.

Deora said, “Recent explorations in Krishna Godavari Basin off India's east coast and Rajasthan in the north have proved India has large reserves of hydrocarbons, so this is a good opportunity for investors.”

He explained the overhaul of the bidding criteria and industry regulatory structure. The new law passed by Parliament recently sets up a gas regulatory structure, the absence of which had deterred foreign investors previously.

India imports about 72 percent of its energy requirements and, in an economy growing at 8 percent, the country is under increasing pressure to boost energy security.

There have been quite a few positive discoveries in India in the recent past. Reliance Industries, the country's largest private sector energy group, announced in 2002 a find in the Krishna Godavari Basin that was the largest in the world in that year.

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