More oil blocks on offer, open acreage system by 2010

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New Delhi, Jul 16 (UNI) India will auction more oil and gas blocks by 2010, and introduce an 'open acreage' system, which allows firms to carve out areas they intend to drill.

Directorate General of Hydrocarbon (DGH) Director General V K Sibal told reporters here that the eighth round of the New Exploration Licencing Policy (NELP) would be launched in the second half of 2009-10.

For open acreage, he said, ''we have to create a national data repository. You have to have data from all the blocks that have been drilled so far.'' He added that by year-end, the government would appoint a consultant for the data repository.

Mr Sibal also said the government would offer blocks for coal bed methane by the December-end.

''I think we may offer less than 10 coal bed methane (CBM) blocks in the fourth round of bidding by end of the calender year,'' he said.

India has so far held three international bid rounds for CBM blocks that attracted companies like world's third largest energy firm BP Plc and Santos of Australia.

Mr Sibal said he was ''excited'' at the response to the just concluded seventh round of bidding for oil and gas areas under the NELP.

''We received four bids per block which is very good compared to 1.5 bid per block Libya gets or three bids per block in NELP-VI,'' he said.

Open acreage and NELP-VIII may come simultaneously in second half of 2009-10 fiscal, he said.

UNI MP SG GC1250

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