NELP-VII round will be launched “after 16th Augustâ€‌

Vol 11, PW 4 (28 Jun 07) People & Policy

Learning from past mistakes, the oil ministry wants to ensure that NELP-VII does not run into the Christmas and New Year holidays when most western oil companies will be distracted by turkey, alcohol and festivities.

PETROWATCH learns oil ministry officials have given clear instructions to the DGH that NELP-VII should be launched anytime “between 16th August and Novemberâ€‌ this year. Lest we forget, 15th August is also a national holiday in India to mark Independence from Britain.

“We cannot have roadshows in December because of the Christmas and New Year holidays in Europe and America,â€‌ says a source. “NELP-VII must be launched well before the end of the year to attract maximum attention.

â€‌ Until now it has been reported that the DGH will offer “around 80â€‌ blocks but it now appears the figure will be “exactly 80â€‌ with 30 in the deep offshore, 30 onland and 20 in the shallow waters. For deepwater blocks, the maximum water depth will be 3000 metres.

“We are cutting off at that depth because exploration and production technology beyond those depths is rare as of now.â€‌ Most of the offshore blocks will be off the western coast; hardly any acreage will be available on the more exciting eastern offshore, scene of several discoveries.

In the western offshore, expect to see a significant number of blocks in the Mumbai basin and the poorly explored Kerala-Konkan basin. “Blocks in the Mumbai basin will be beyond the continental shelf, where the Mumbai High fields lie, but within the Exclusive Economic Zone,â€‌ we are told.

For NELP-VII, the DGH is making special efforts to woo bidders to the Kerala-Konkan basin. Blocks in this basin have attracted poor interest in previous NELP rounds because the general perception – based on experience - is that Kerala-Konkan holds hardly any hydrocarbons.

As with NELP-VI, the next bidding round will not require operators in deepwater blocks to make drilling commitment in the first five years, but 2D seismic will be mandatory.