Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas launches Open Acreage Licensing Programme Bid Round-VI


Area of approximately 35,346 sq. km. on offer to the investors

The advent of the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) promulgatedin March 2016, brought about paradigm changes in the way exploratory blocks are auctioned in India. It led to transition from production sharing regime to revenue sharing regime. The Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) offered the potential investors freedom to carve out blocks of their choice through submission of Expression of Interest (EoI). The EoI window is open round the year and the investors need to wait for periodic launch of bid rounds. After successful completion of 3 bidding rounds, the Government notified further policy reforms within ambit of HELP in February 2019.The focus was shifted from ‘revenue’ to ‘production’ maximization. There was also focus on greater transparency and stream-lined procedures. Bid Rounds IV onwardsare beingcarried out under the furtherreformed policy and revised model bid documents.

The Government launched OALP Bid Round-V on January 14, 2020 for 11 E&P Blocks for an area of19,789 sq. km and completed on November 17, 2020, with the award of all the Blocks to winning bidders. In spite of COVID-19 pandemic, the bidding was successfully completed and blocks awarded.

In the E&P Investor Meet held on 30th July 2021 at New Delhi, the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas had made the announcement that the OALP Bid RoundVI is being launched soon and welcomed the domestic and international communities to participate in the robust Indian energy growth story.

Accordingly, in continuation of its focus on aggressive acceleration of E&P activities, the Government has now launched the OALPBid Round-VIfor International Competitive Bidding with effect fromAugust6, 2021.A total of 21 blocks, with an area of approximately 35,346 sq. km. are on offer to the investors.The bidders would be able to submit their bids through an online e-bidding portal starting August6, 2021 and the deadline for bid submission is October 6, 2021 at 1200 hrs.Considering the COVID-19pandemic situation,bidders are allowed to submit requisite bid documents electronically. Award of these blocks to winning bidders is expected by the end of November2021.

The 21blocks under OALP Round-VIarespread across 11Sedimentary Basins and include fifteenOnland blocks, four Shallow Water blocks and two Ultra Deep Water block. Category wise, there are 12 blocks in Category-I basins, 4 in Category II basins and 5 in category-III basins.

It is expected that this Bid Round VI would generate immediate exploration work commitment of around USD 300-400 million.An area of 156,580 sq. km. has already been awarded under past bid rounds OALP Bid Rounds(I to V). This Bid Round-VIis expected toaddfurther 35,346sq. km, taking the total area forexploration to 191,926 sq. km. under the HELP regime.

About HELP

The Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (HELP), which adopts the Revenue Sharing Contract model, is a giant step towards improving the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in the Indian Exploration and Production (E&P) sector. It comes with attractive and liberal terms like reduced royalty rates, no Oil Cess, marketing and pricing freedom, round the year bidding, freedom to investors for carving out blocks of their interest, a single license to cover both conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources, exploration permission during the entire contract period, and an easy, transparent and swift bidding and awarding process. Bid Round-IV onwards bidding roundsare being carried out under the further liberalized policy terms, which focused on production maximization with higher weightage to Committed Work Programme in Category I basin and no revenue share bids required for less explored Category II & III basins.

The 10thcycle of submitting Expressions of Interest (EoIs) has recently closed on July 31, 2021,with active investor participation and the 11th cycleis currently open till November30, 2021 for EOI submissions.