Technical evaluation of NELP bids is complete

Vol 3, PW 18 (29 Sep 99) Exploration & Production

The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) has kept its promise and submitted its technical evaluation of the 45 bids made for 27 blocks under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) to the oil ministry ahead of schedule.

The DGH nominations were submitted on Friday 17th September, a day ahead of the one month deadline it set itself from the date of submission on 18th August. Now follows, "a long drawn out process", according to one source, as the oil ministry almost certainly seeks clarifications and counter clarifications from the DGH on the nominations it has made.

Delay, if any, will begin now, as bureaucrats begin poking their noses into the minor details of the bids. Little is known about which companies were actually nominated, except that the recommendations were made in an atmosphere of utmost secrecy, unprecedented in the history of Indian licensing rounds.

None of the three DGH committees set up to examine the bids (on a block-wise basis) was told the recommendations made by the other two. Each of the committee members (a geologist, an economist, a reservoir engineer and a geophysicist) was under strict instructions not to talk to anyone about either the evaluation procedure or the nominations.

Much of the credit for the speed of the technical evaluation goes to the computer software which examined the bids. It is learnt that the DGH committees strictly followed the guidelines laid down by the software, ensuring an "impartial and speedy analysis".