NELP-VIII announcement will be in February 2009

Vol 12, PW 15 (18 Dec 08) People & Policy

Work never stops at the DGH.

Days after successfully concluding the NELP-VII round, the â€کtechnical arm’ of the oil ministry will begin gearing up to launch the next round: NELP-VIII. “The government wants to launch it in February,â€‌ we hear.

“The DGH is racing to meet the schedule.â€‌ Offshore blocks in the Arabian Sea and near the Andaman Islands have been identified.

Expect the DGH to offer onshore acreage in the remote northeast states of Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur that border China and Burma. In the hinterland, prospective areas are in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir and West Bengal.

Some reports suggest 100 blocks may be offered. “The number of blocks will be fixed 15 days before the offer notice is ready,â€‌ we hear.

Current and potential investors have already met the DGH at the Shangri-La in Delhi on December 11 to discuss NELP-VIII. “The meeting was organised for feedback on problems faced by operators in India,â€‌ says a government source.

Before the meeting, attended by oil secretary RS Pandey and additional secretary S. Sundareshan, the DGH sought suggestions from past participants in NELP rounds on how to improve the process.

“A few replied to the letters,â€‌ we hear, “which were mostly suggestions about bid criteria and work programmes.â€‌ Our source says that the perception following the meeting was that the DGH would offer about 100 blocks including “small-small blocks relinquished by ONGC and Oil India.

â€‌ But the figure of 100 blocks and 400,000-sq km area came from a presentation leaked from the oil secretary’s office around December 7 or 8. “All the speculation about the number of blocks,â€‌ we are told, “and even the road show dates are tentative.

â€‌ Preliminary information suggests the DGH is planning roadshows in Delhi on February 16; London - February 18 to 20; Houston - February 23 to 25; Calgary - February 27 to March 2; and Brisbane and Perth - March 6 to 9. Also possible are roadshows in the tourist destinations of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Dubai, Moscow, Cape Town and Brazil!