New Delhi: The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoP&NG) has recently initiated the Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP) Bid Round-VIII, offering 10 blocks for International Competitive Bidding, said the ministry in a statement on Monday. In a move to facilitate a smooth bidding process, interested parties can now submit their bids through a dedicated online e-bidding portal until July 5, 2023, by 12 hours, it added. Further, it said that this bidding round aims to attract investments and promote exploration and production (E&P) activities across the country.
With the addition of the OALP Round-VIII Blocks, a total of 34,364.53 square kilometres of acreage will be included, bringing the cumulative exploration acreage under OALP to 242,055 square kilometres, said the statement. It is important to note that the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) was introduced on March 30, 2016. Since then, seven rounds of OALP have been successfully concluded, resulting in the awarding of 134 E&P blocks spanning over an area of 2,07,691 square kilometres across 19 sedimentary basins, it added.
The government has undertaken significant measures to reduce 'No-Go' areas in the Indian offshore by 99 percent, said the statement. These steps, along with recent changes in the contractual framework and incentive structure, aim to expedite E&P activities, enhance the ease of doing business, and attract fresh investments in the sector. Key reformative changes include larger acreage areas, simplified modalities for carving out open acreage blocks, flexibility in drilling commitment, modifications in operatorship experience for Deep/Ultra-deep-water blocks, improved bidding parameters evaluation criteria, flexible work programs, and relaxed exploration timelines, it added.
Other modifications encompass provisions related to taxes, conversion rates for statutory and contractual payments, enhanced stabilisation period to incentivise early monetisation of discoveries, the introduction of retention period for submission of Field Development Plan, updated definitions for Arm's Length Sale and consortium changes, expanded scope of force majeure, streamlined EoI (Expression of Interest) and bidding processes, and rationalized fees and bonds.
The revised contractual framework, incorporating these changes to encourage intensive E&P investments, can be found on the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) website () and the E-Bidding Portal (). Prospective bidders are encouraged to review the revised terms and submit their bids for OALP Round VIII before 12 hours on July 5, said the statement.