Modi government extends Open Acreage Licensing Policy deadline to May 2

Illustration by Ajay Mohanty
The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has extended the submission date of bids for the ongoing Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) round of oil and gas auctions by almost a month to May 2.

This came after two foreign companies sought more time from the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), said two persons close to the development.

At least 12 companies are likely to participate in the bidding, in which 55 blocks will go under the hammer. 

“Earlier, the last date for submitting bids was April 4, and it has been extended to May 2. This came after overseas players showed an interest,” said a person close to the development. 

The DGH is conducting the bidding process for the ministry.

The bidding process included two rounds. The first one was of submitting expressions of interests, following which six companies had shown an interest in 55 blocks.

“Another six companies have shown an interest in these blocks during the second round and the foreign players — from Canada, the US, and Singapore — have sought more time. We want more players to come in and hence, the extension was given,” said another official.

The highlights of the round include single licence for all forms of hydrocarbons and a simplified revenue-sharing model with marketing and pricing freedom. Bidders have shown an interest in a substantial area of 60,000 square km, as compared to 25,000 square km in previous rounds.

Of the sedimentary area of 3.14 million square km India has, 2.7 million square km was on offer under the Open Acreage Licensing (OAL) during the initial stage — including 1.5 million square km onshore and 1.2 million square km offshore. India is likely to witness a fresh round of OAL II for allotting hydrocarbon assets in the country by June this year.

Under the OALP, operators will have the flexibility to choose Petroleum Operations Contracts (POCs) or Reconnaissance Contracts (RCs). While an RC will be for three years, those under a POC will get eight years for exploration and 20 years for development and production.

There will also be an option to migrate from an RC to PC contract after three years.

According to the government plan, the bidding will now happen twice a year. “The DGH may conduct one more roadshow in Singapore during this extended period because there are a lot of interests coming from that part of the world,” he said.

In February, the Union Cabinet had cleared the second round of Discovered Small Fields (DSF) auctions, in which 60 fields will be up for grabs.

“Bids are likely to start also within a month,” the official added. About 22 of these fields belong to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, while of the 21 fields that did not find any takers during the first round of DSF, 12 are relinquished discovered fields from the New Exploration and Licensing Policy rounds and five fields belong to Oil India.