'Open Acreage' system inches towards reality

Vol 5, PW 15 (12 Sep 01) Exploration & Production

More heartening news for upstream explorers looking for opportunities in India: bureaucrats are working on the details of an open acreage system to replace the cumbersome system of licensing rounds.

PETROWATCH has obtained the outlines of a new policy under consideration. "The applicant intending to carry out exploration in an open acreage system would be required to submit a guaranteed work programme for different phases of the production exploration licence or production sharing contract," reads a note circulated in the ministry.

"The bids would be evaluated on the basis of work programme amongst other parameters." Before open acreage is reality, India will have another two licensing rounds: NELP-III and NELP-IV. When will the new system be in place "By the end of the 10th five year plan (2002-07) or beginning of 11th five year plan (2008)." Will the schedule be kept A glimmer of hope comes with an official note: "Certain preparatory activities are under process." These include oil P.

S.Us switching over to a grid system in defining acreage holdings, in place of the present block-wise definitions.

"DGH will prepare the requisite maps," reads the note, "and acquire seismic data during the 10th Five Year Plan (2002-07)." 2D seismic work planned ahead of an open acreage system is listed below. Year Workprogramme Region Comments 2002-03 10,000-15,000 line kilometres Western offshore To cover the deepwater area 1,500 line kilometres Ganga basin and Kutch onland To cover part of the Ganga basin and Kutch onland 2003-04 8,000-10,000 line kilometres Western offshore including Kutch-Saurashtra Infill work in deep water depending on 2002-03 survey 800 line kilometres Kutch onland 2,000 line kilometres Kutch offshore R&D type seismic survey for sub-basalt Mesozoics 2004-05 9,000 line kilometres East coast and Andaman - ultra deep water areas 2005-05 800 line kilometres Himalayan foot hills and other onland frontier basins A few regional lines are planned depending upon the drilling results of ONGC in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir andrecommendation of joint study report 2006-07 9,000 line kilometres West coast - ultra deep water areas Depending upon the outcome of earlier surveys and work in exploration blocks