Vol 3, PW 7 (28 Apr 99) Exploration & Production

Indian oil officials have tentatively fixed 18 August 1999 as the new deadline for submission of bids under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).

A source in the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas tells this report the new deadline is being considered in view of the current political instability. By August, the source tells this report, it is expected the political situation will have cleared enough for the bids to be processed smoothly.

No formal notification has been sent to expected bidders, because, as before, Vazhappady Ramamurthy, the interim oil minister, is too preoccupied saving his political skin to sacrifice the 5 seconds or so required to sign the piece of paper which will enable a junior bureaucrat to fax the new date to oil companies. Officially, a senior oil ministry spokesman tells this report that a change of date is, "under consideration only".

Rather unhelpfully and not without a touch of conceit, he adds: "The official notification may come as late as May 17th (one day before the deadline). At this stage we can not say".

He did, however, confirm that an extension was likely, but stubbornly refused to confirm or deny the new 18 August date. Enron and Phillips Petroleum, meanwhile, are the latest two companies to have bought deepwater data of blocks tendered under NELP.

Like the majority of buyers before them, their interest is focused on the Krishna Godavari deep waters and/or the Bombay Offshore. Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), in association with Malaysias Petronas, has also purchased data for four deepwater blocks on the east coast.

Table: List of companies to have bought data so far:- Company Data purchased Shell Krishna Godavari Deepwater Phillips Petroleum Krishna Godavari Deepwater CMS Oil & Gas Krishna Godavari Deepwater Unocal Bombay Offshore & Krishna Godavari Deepwater Woodside Petroleum Krishna Godavari Deepwater Maersk Olie Krishna Godavari Deepwater and Shallow Water Enron Oil & Gas Bombay Offshore & Krishna Godavari Deepwater Cairn Energy Krishna Godavari Petronas/Indian Oil Corporation Krishna Godavari Deepwater Oil India Limited Mahanadi