Centre signs 31 contracts under New Exploration Licensing Policy

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New Delhi, June 30 (ANI): The Central Government on Wednesday signed 31 Product Sharing Contracts (PSCs) for 31 oil and gas blocks awarded to 23 companies in the eighth round of auction, under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).

Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora and Union Law and Justice Minister Dr M Veerappa Moily presided over the signing ceremony held here today.

Out of the 31 blocks, 17 blocks have been awarded to national oil companies like Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Oil India Ltd (OIL) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).

"We did receive bids for 36 blocks in the New Exploration Licensing Policy round. We did receive bids for eight blocks in Coal-Bed-Methane (CBM). 31 contracts have been signed or will be signed today. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has already cleared one more NELP block in the last meeting," said S Sundaresan, Petroleum and Natural Gas Secretary.

"Seven blocks in the CBM round have also been cleared by the CCEA. These PSCs (Production Sharing Contracts) are also expected to be signed in the course of the next few weeks," he added.

India aims to launch the ninth round of oil and gas blocks licensing in the third quarter of 2010.

The total investment under the earlier NELP rounds stands at dollar 13.8 billion and companies have committed an investment of dollar 1.1 billion in the eighth auction round held in 2009.

"Approximately 1.5 billion dollars is the committed work program. What this means is that the minimum work program, to the extent of this quantum of money will be undertaken by the successful bidders. But this is not the total investment," said Sundaresan.

"Investment could be 10 times this, 15 times this, five times this, depending upon the discoveries and the amount that these companies will be spending in their appraisal and the development phase," he added. (ANI)

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