Maharashtra will bid for three blocks in NELP-VI round

Vol 10, PW 9 (24 Aug 06) Exploration & Production

Maharashtra is keen to emulate Gujarat and enter the exploration business.

In the state capital Mumbai, plans are being drawn up to bid in the NELP-VI licensing round. A senior state government official tells us Maharashtras vehicle for NELP-VI will be state-owned Maharashtra Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd (MPCL).

But with no upstream experience, MPCL will have to ally itself with a company with operator experience. Why is Maharashtra going upstream We want equity gas, a senior official tells PETROWATCH.

We have seen how difficult it is to get gas for industries and power stations in our state. If we have our own exploration company we can get gas from our entitlement on the block.

MPCL is yet to begin formal talks with any operator. The proposal is with the (state) government, adds a source.

We are waiting for formal approval. Once this comes, Maharashtra will begin talks with ONGC and GSPC.

Our idea is to have between 5% and 10% stake, we hear. There are no plans to partner any private operator.

ONGC and GSPC are government owned companies so it will be easier for us to learn. There is also a comfort level when government companies work with each other.

Maharashtras interest in NELP-VI is limited to three blocks within the state: DS-ONN-2004/1 is a 2649-sq km frontier area block in the poorly explored Deccan Syneclise basin while MB-OSN-2004/1 (Area: 1520-sq km) and MB-OSN-2004/2 (Area: 741-sq km) lie in the shallow waters of the Mumbai Offshore. Mumbai Offshore is home to the once prolific but now ageing Mumbai High field as well as other significant fields such as Neelam, Heera, Vasai, Panna, Mukta and Tapti.

Maharashtra officials know MPCL has no technical capability but stress that it has full backing from the state government. It is essential to have the state governments support in getting clearances and approvals before exploration, one official reminds us.

State government support is vital even during the exploration and development phase.