Vol 3, PW 15 (18 Aug 99) Exploration & Production

Not surprisingly, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) is trying to extract maximum mileage from ONGCs strike in the Krishna Godavari and Shells strike in Rajasthan.

In Rajasthan, the DGH is tendering four concessions near the border with Pakistan and on the east coast it is tendering 12 deepwater blocks adjacent to ONGCs strike. A senior official at the DGH said ONGC would now welcome a deepwater joint venture with an overseas multinational.

So, will the spate of good news tempt more companies to bid under NELP By today (August 18th) the exact number of companies that file a bid should become clear. Recent visitors to the offices of the DGH in Delhi report a palpable sense of excitement among staff.

Avinash Chandra, Director General, is in robust form, confident that all 48 blocks tendered under NELP will get a good response from multinational and local Indian companies. "Do they know something we dont" asks one contractor and regular visitor to the DGH.

Much of the DGHs excitement stems from a belief that all 14 companies (see: PW-Vol 3/Issue 14/8--NELP: WHO HAS BOUGHT DATA AND WHO WILL BID) that bought data will file a bid. As readers of this report know, this is unlikely.

Pessimism aside, the DGH confirms it has sold a total of $7.5m worth of data packages. Of this it has received $5.4m for the deepwater data and $2.1m for the onshore and shallow water.

A source at the DGH tells this report Chandra has set a one-month deadline to evaluate the bids before sending them to the oil ministry for approval. He optimistically predicts the whole process will take six months.

While it is possible to have confidence in the DGHs deadline, the same can not be said for the oil ministry. It is here that any delay in evaluation is likely to occur.