BP, BHP Billiton among bidders, contracts to be singed by Sept 30

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New Delhi, Jun 30 (UNI) BP Plc, BHP Billiton, Reliance Industries, ONGC, and Cairn are among the big names that have bid for exploration rights for a record 57 oil and gas blocks under the seventh round of New Exploration Licencing Policy (NELP).

The government today said it has received 181 bids for the 45 out of the 57 -- nine in shallow waters, 19 in deep waters and 29 onshore -- offered under NELP VII that will fetch an investment of about three billion dollars.

''We have got 181 bids for 45 blocks under NELP VII, against 165 bids received for 52 blocks in the last round of NELP VI,'' Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dinsha Patel said while addressing the mediapersons here.

This includes award of 12 deepwater blocks, seven shallow water blocks and 26 onland blocks.

In the deep water blocks, British oil major BP Plc and Reliance Industries have jointly bid for two deepwater exploration blocks in India.

BHP Billiton has bid in consortium with the Indian companies GVK respectively.

Other bidders for deepwater include country's flagship oil explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Cairn and GSPC.

Out of the 57 blocks offered in the NELP VII, seven deep water blocks, two shallow water blocks and three onland blocks have not received any bid, Mr Patel said.

A total of 96 companies, including 21 foreign and 75 domestic companies have bid either on their own or as consortia, the Minister informed.

''A total of nine new foreign companies out of 21 foreign companies have submitted bids under NELP VII,'' he said.

Commenting on the small blocks, Mr Patel said 42 new players have bid for the nine S-type blocks either on their own or in consortium. While, two S-type blocks received 17 bids each.

There are 19 blocks which attracted only one bidder each.

Out of these, BHP Billiton has bagged six blocks, ONGC with consortium partners eight blocks, Cairn one block, Essar one block, and two other companies have bagged the remaining blocks.

Mr Patel said the evaluation of the bids will be undertaken and the blocks are expected to be awarded by August 31 this year. The process will take just about two months from bid receipt to the award of contracts and the contracts are expected to be signed by September 30.

BG, which operates fields in India, Chevron, which has a stake in Reliance Petroleum, and Royal Dutch Shell and Italy's ENI, which also has stake in a block, are believed not to have bid.

Exploration blocks that were more likely to have natural gas, which does not get tax concessions, did not attract many bids.

''There is less response, lukewarm response to the gas-prone areas,'' Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, Director General, V K Sibal said.

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