Get ready for an Open Acreage Bidding System

Vol 4, PW 24 (17 Jan 01) Exploration & Production

Worry not if you miss this round of NELP.

Soon you can land in India, pick your exploration block, sign a PSC and start work. That's if you believe a promise contained in an internal brief prepared for oil minister Ram Naik by officials in his ministry, a copy of which is with Petrowatch.

According to the note, the only reason why a grid system is not already in operation is because the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, in partnership with the Surveyor General of India, hasn't got round to preparing the grid maps yet! "While obtaining the approval of the cabinet on NELP," reads the note, "It was mentioned that the bids would be invited under an open acreage bidding system, (but that) pending preparation of grid maps, the existing system of offering acreages on a Block system could continue." Adds the note: "The main advantage of an open acreage system is that the acreage is available on a continuous basis as against the round system, where acreage is available as and when bids are invited. The company can choose their time for bidding depending upon their preference." Quite! To force the point, we are reminded of some pertinent facts: India's "prognosticated reserves base" is 21bn tonnes (with an additional 10bn tonnes in the deepwater) but that established geological reserves (on 1st April 1999) are only 6.7bn tonnes.

Clearly scope for improvement.