Expect poor response to NELP-IV on 30th September

Vol 7, PW 14 (24 Sep 03) Exploration & Production

Six days from today on 30th September in Delhi, India's Directorate General of Hydrocarbons will receive bids for 24 exploration blocks on offer in the country's fourth round of the New Exploration Licensing Policy.

The DGH and the oil ministry went out in full force to attract bidders by setting up data rooms in London, Houston, Delhi, Calgary and Perth. But despite the excellent financial terms there won't be a crowd of bidders.

Blame it on the poor geological prospectivity or the high exploration risks. PETROWATCH has the names of companies that visited the London, Houston and Delhi data rooms.

For instance, the London dataroom, which closed on 15th August, saw 17 companies visit. Among them were: ENI spa, Statoil, Amerada Hess, TotalFinaElf, Cairn Energy, OMV of Austria, Premier Oil, TGS Nopec, Foresight Oil, Granby Enterprises, Burren Energy, Transworld, Blanche International, Jabco Seismic, HPCL and INA Indystriya Nafta.

The Houston dataroom, which closed on 13th September, received 13 companies, among them ExxonMobil, Occidental Oil, Shell, Niko Resources, ChevronTexaco and Canoro Resources. In Delhi, the visiting companies numbered 18.

Most were Indian companies like Essar Oil, Reliance, HOEC, Prize Petroleum and PSUs like ONGC, Gujarat Petroleum, BPCL, GAIL and Oil India. Also among the visiting companies were British Gas, Gazprom, Hardy Exploration and Woodside Energy.

But neither the impressive list of visiting companies nor the purchase of data packages by BG, Woodside Energy, Transworld Oil, Alcor Petroleum, ONGC, Oil India, BPCL or HPCL is any guarantee that any of them might bid. "There will be a very poor response to the 11 onland blocks because all of them are ONGC leftovers," a source familiar with the data said.

"Only one onland block AA-ONN-2002/1 looks of interest because of a producing ONGC field nearby. But Assam is not an easy place to work in." Geologists expect some interest only in the 13 offshore blocks.

But even here, chances are that the water depths of about 1,000 metres to 3,000 metres could deter bidders because 12 of the 13 offshore blocks lie in deep water.

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