Bids for the cities offered for bidding in the sixth city gas distribution (CGD) licensing round were to close on December 14.
"As requested by several entities, it has been decided to extend bid submission date by one month" to January 15, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) said in a notice.
While it is yet to award licences for previous rounds of bidding in June this year, PNGRB had in October invited bids for development of CGD network in 34 cities in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab and Goa.
In Gujarat, bids have been invited for allowing retailing of CNG to automobiles and piped cooking gas to households in Dahod, Patan, Banashantha, Amreli, Dahej-Vagra taluka, Ahmedabad, Anand and Panchmahal.
Licences for Auraiya, Nainital, Baghpat, Amethi, Etawah, Saharanpur, Raebareli, Mainpuri and Ramabai Nagar in Uttar Pradesh are up for grabs.
Besides, licences for Bhiwani, Yamunagar, Rewari and Rohtak in Haryana are on offer. Bids have also been invited for CGD licences for Jhabhua, Dhar, Rewa and Shahdol in Madhya Pradesh, Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, Chitradurga and Gadag in Karnataka, Bhatinda, Rupnagar and Fatehgarh Sahib in Punjab and North Goa.
PNGRB divided the cities into lots of five each and fixed technical bid opening dates from January 15 to January 25.
Clarifying on the Oil Ministry's draft guidelines of March 2015 that provide for automatically giving a CNG retailing licence to any entity that has invested Rs 500 crore in oil and gas infrastructure, PNGRB said, "The guidelines are still at a draft stage and have not been finalised yet."
Stating that it is actively taking up the matter with the ministry, the regulator said as of now, the stated position as per law is that "no entity except those that are authorised by PNGRB under PNGRB Act, 2006 to establish a city or local gas distribution network in their respective geographical area... may set up a new CNG station."
The 5th round of CGD licence bidding had received lukewarm response, with no bids being received for eight out of the 20 cities on offer, while single bids came in for two others. Indian Oil Corp-Adani Gas combine has bid for a licence to retail CNG in five cities.
State gas utility GAIL India Ltd, through its subsidiary GAIL Gas, bid for three. Bidders have to quote the tariff they will charge for the pipeline network to be laid in the city and the compression charge for dispensing CNG (compressed natural gas) over 25 years.