Signing NELP contracts in record quick time

Vol 4, PW 23 (20 Dec 00) Exploration & Production

Delay, red tape, and procrastination.

It's an image foreign oil companies still have of Indian efforts to open up the exploration sector. Luckily, it's one the Indian oil ministry is trying hard to dispel.

Figures released by oil minister Ram Naik are encouraging. They show that between 1991 and 1998, India held six licensing rounds, but managed to award only 35 exploration blocks.

Of these, PSCs were signed for just 23. By contrast, 25 blocks were awarded after the last round of NELP, which closed on August 18th, 1999.

Of these, 23 have translated into PSCs. Round Blocks Offered Bids received Blocks awarded Fourth 72 13 5 Fifth 45 10 6 Sixth 46 12 5 Seventh 45 10 7 Eighth 34 18 7 JVEP 38 7 5 NELP 45 27 25 Naik's message is clear: the next round will see a similar number of blocks auctioned - on time and to schedule.

Hopefully, it will also result in more foreign company money coming into the exploration sector. According to Naik, just $152m was invested in foreign-operated exploration blocks till 31st March 1999.

By international standards, that's low.

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