Santos can exit India without penalty

Vol 18, PW 9 (18 Dec 14) News in Brief

Good news for foreign explorers! If you’re unable to complete your work programme through no fault of your own and want to exit India, you can - without paying a financial penalty.

Australian explorer Santos will be among the first to benefit from this new policy, introduced by the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs on October 18. Santos will no longer be asked to pay a penalty to relinquish blocks NEC-DWN-2004/1 and NEC-DWN-2004/2 where Bangladeshi gunboats forced it to stop shooting seismic in January 2009, claiming the blocks sit in their territorial waters, a view upheld by an international tribunal this year.

"Actual relinquishment has yet to start," says Santos. "We’ve waited so many years we can wait a few months longer.

" BHP Billiton will also benefit as it exits six NELP-VII and three NELP-VIII blocks where it was refused defence ministry clearance. Eni can also exit its Andaman block without a penalty as work was held up by the department of space.