Only the ministry will decide if E&P data is آ‘proprietaryآ’

Vol 10, PW 11 (21 Sep 06) People & Policy

Companies reluctant to part with proprietary or commercially sensitive block or field data can seek exemptions under the new rules.

But who decides if a particular piece of data is granted this privilege Answer: the oil ministry. Says the notification: In case of conflict on the question of whether any particular data is of a proprietary nature the Central Government shall be the sole authority to decide on the matter.

But such exemption, if any, will not be indefinite. In cases where five years have lapsed from the date from which such data becomes available or upon determination of the license or lease, whichever is earlier, such data may be disclosed to any person or legal entity to promote exploration and production of hydrocarbons, for which disclosure no consent shall be required.

The new rules also say that, upon determination of a license or lease in respect of an onland area, a copy of the data shall also be provided to the State Government, which has granted the license or lease. These new rules came into effect the day they were published in the Gazette on 28th August and precede the introduction of open acreage bidding where blocks will be continually on offer - to replace licensing rounds.

But for open acreage to work India needs a national E&P database. The oil ministry and the DGH have been trying to set one up but are facing stiff resistance from companies unwilling to part with proprietary data.

Even though we will now start getting the data, it will take time and effort to sift through, collate and integrate it before we can set up the national data repository, says a senior official. Only after the national data repository is functioning properly can we introduce an open acreage system.